May 18, 2016
Albany

Governor Cuomo Announces New York State Hosts "Raven's Challenge" Bomb Squad Training For Second Consecutive Year

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Local, State, Federal, and International Teams Train at State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany, Boosting Local Economy and Preparing Responders for Emergencies

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Governor Cuomo today announced that bomb squads, military explosive ordnance disposal and explosive detection canine teams from New York and several states, federal partners and Canada are participating in the Raven’s Challenge Exercise at the State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany this week. This is the second consecutive year that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Army have selected the State Preparedness Training Center to host this prestigious, national event.

“New York continues to remain vigilant and enhance our preparedness in the aftermath of recent terrorist attacks in Brussels, San Bernardino and Paris,” Governor Cuomo said. “The Raven’s Challenge is critical to ensuring that New York’s bomb technicians remain among the most skilled in the nation, and this knowledge makes this state safer for all New Yorkers.”

Operated by the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Service, the State Preparedness Training Center’s vast array of training venues gives bomb squad and canine teams an opportunity to train in realistic environments, such as a simulated city, residential housing complex, collapsed building rubble pile, woodland structures and other settings. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the State Preparedness Training Center annually trains thousands of New York’s first responders, namely law enforcement and emergency medical services personnel, in a variety of areas including response to active shooter events, emergency vehicle operations, EMS special situations, and team tactics for patrol officers.

The 2016 Raven’s Challenge X Interoperability Exercise began on April 17 and runs until June 24 at venues in Fort Wolters, Texas; the State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany; Camp Blanding JTC, Florida, and the SATSOP Nuclear Power Plant in Elma, Washington. More than 100 bomb technicians, along with nearly 90 support staff, are participating in the Joint Program Office for Countering Improvised Explosive Devices/Raven’s Challenge Exercise at the State Preparedness Training Center from May 16-20.

“During the past decade, New York State has made a concerted effort to enhance its counter -IED capabilities by providing extensive support to its network of 13 FBI-Hazardous Devices School (HDS) accredited public safety bomb squads,” said DHSES Commissioner John P. Melville. “The Raven’s Challenge Exercise, the largest military explosive ordnance disposal and public safety bomb squad exercise in the world, gives New York agencies the knowledge they need to safely and effectively respond to incidents involving IEDs.”

New elements to this year’s exercise include:

  • · First use of the newly-acquired, 165,000 square-foot Orion Building adjacent to the SPTC. The Orion Building will feature a scenario designed by the U.S. Secret Service and it will also be home to several canine skill lanes for bomb squads and canine teams to further hone responders’ capabilities.
    · Use of “Go Pro” cameras, so that responders can review and learn from their response techniques immediately following the completion of their scenarios.
    · Use of airport-style x-ray screening equipment in a scenario designed by the Transportation Security Administration in the wake of the attack on the airport in Brussels.
    · Participation by HDS-certified bomb technicians as observer/controllers on each of the training lanes.

As part of the Raven’s Challenge Exercise, the State Preparedness Training Center has received a cache of equipment from federal partners over the past two years to support exercise scenarios. These resources, valued in excess of $160,000, include a WiFi camera system, a training apparatus to test responders’ robotics capabilities, and an obstacle course for training explosive detection canine teams, will remain at the State Preparedness Training Center during the Raven’s Challenge Exercise and in other training events year-round.

“We depend on our HDS-accredited public safety bomb squads responding to IED threats on a daily basis throughout our country,” said FBI Counter-IED Section Chief John P. Selleck. “As the agency responsible for the training, certification and accreditation of all public safety bomb technicians and bomb squads, we are proud to work in partnership to ensure a robust training experience for the participants, grounded in best practices from recent terrorism responses and the tactics, techniques and procedures taught at the FBI’s HDS. What’s more, these exercises provide us with an opportunity to work with our military EOD counterparts should the need arise for us to deploy together domestically. To have access to the SPTC’s state-of-the-art facilities is certainly a tremendous bonus.”

"We are fortunate again this year that the New York State Preparedness Training Center will be hosting the 2016 Raven's Challenge," said ATF Special Agent Thomas Mangan. "The State Preparedness Training Center is a one of a kind facility that can meet the unique needs for this national explosives training event."

"Raven’s Challenge is an excellent training opportunity for the members of the New York Army National Guard's 1108th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company who will be working alongside other military and law enforcement bomb disposal experts," said Major General Anthony German, the Adjutant General of New York. "This exercise enables our Citizen Soldier bomb disposal to learn the latest techniques in dealing with explosive devices from civilian law enforcement bomb disposal experts and prepare them for the challenges they may face overseas or here at home."

A list of agencies from across New York State that are scheduled to participate is available here.

A video of last year’s Raven’s Challenge is available here.

For images on last year’s Raven’s Challenge click here

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