Governor Cuomo today announced that the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) State Preparedness Training Center (SPTC) in Oriskany has been selected as one of four training sites for the 2015 Ravens Challenge, an exercise designed to enhance interoperability between public safety bomb squads and military explosive ordinance disposal technicians. Personnel will be combined to form response teams, and then proceed to engage counter improvised explosive device operations in various scenarios throughout the course of 11 days. The Challenge is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and coordinated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The New York State Preparedness Training Center is a fitting location to host this prestigious training exercise, Governor Cuomo said. We, as New Yorkers, are uniquely aware and prepared for the threats that Americans face in the world today, which is why we operate some of the most robust counterterrorism teams of any state and are establishing the nations first college of emergency preparedness and homeland security. I look forward to the opportunity to host the 2015 Ravens Challenge in Oriskany, and for our first responders to share their talent with their colleagues from across the country.
The Ravens Challenge emphasizes coordination between military explosives experts and state and local bomb squads, which is critical in the event of an emergency that involves an explosive device. The Challenge will also include experts from other first responder disciplines, such as fire and EMS, to provide an opportunity for additional units to test their own capabilities in similarly realistic scenarios. The tentative date for the New York State portion of the Challenge is June 15-26, 2015; the other three training sites will be in Florida, Colorado and Washington.
DHSES Commissioner Jerome M. Hauer said, Explosives are still the tactic mostly commonly used by terrorist organizations around the globe. Having an exercise like Raven's Challenge that focuses on explosives is consistent with the current threat environment. As the State with the highest risk of terrorism in the nation, we must be prepared for this threat.
The SPTC is located on more than 700 acres of land and includes an extensive network of facilities, including an education and administration building, field operations building, emergency vehicle operations course and multiple simulations venues (i.e. a shoot house, woodlands training areas and a trailer park). Additionally, the SPTC's new CityScape will open this year, a 45,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility that hosts realistic training environments for first responders, including a mall, hotel, bank, school and apartment building. To complement the advanced infrastructure, experts employ explosive detonations, walking wounded role-players and sounds to make the scenarios more realistic.
Congressman Richard Hanna said, "Our state-of-the-art training facility in Oriskany is well equipped to handle this important ATF training program that will help keep New Yorkers safe, and I am pleased to see it selected as one of just four sites nationwide. I look forward to supporting this program through my work in Washington. Not only will the participants train at our top-notch State Preparedness Training Center, but they will stay in our hotels, patronize our restaurants and have a positive impact on our local economy. They will be able to experience first-hand all that our wonderful community has to offer.
Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente said, We are very pleased to host the 2015 Ravens Challenge and welcome all of the emergency personnel to our community. We are honored to host such a high-profile training event designed to equip those who are dedicated to protecting our communities and our nation.
New York State is home to various FBI-accredited bomb squads, with 12 located in Chautauqua, Erie, Monroe, Nassau, Onondaga, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester Counties, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse and the Village of Endicott, plus one squad operated by the New York State Police. DHSES has provided over $13 million in homeland security grant funding to local bomb squads to enhance their capabilities, as well as hosts annual bomb squad symposiums that bring together local, state, federal and international bomb technicians to share best practices.
For more information on the New York State Preparedness Training Center, visit the DHSES website at http://www.dhses.ny.gov/SPTC.