ACC opens new first responder training center

New lessons in public safety will be taught this fall at a multi-million dollar training facility built by the Austin Community College. An active shooter training exercise Thursday morning had officers with the ACC police department learning how to gain access to a building.  

The exercise took place in Kyle at the community college’s new public safety training center.

At a cost of about $20 million, it was created to provide continuing education - especially for small agencies. Its legacy, according to center director Dale Toler, will be the next generation of first responders who graduate from here.

“If you cant be trained in this environment you may not be trainable, right,” stated Toler.

To make that point, Toler provided a tour of the 30-acre campus.

A main feature is this massive simulation room. Homes, schools and businesses can be created.

Those who enter this controlled environment are placed into high stress chaotic situations. Each moment recorded by multi cameras so the lessons learned can be reviewed later. 

“We want officers to be less reactive a more aware of their environment, and more aware of their situation while they are going in, so they can make good solid rational choices about when and when not to use deadly force,” said Toler.

The center also has a indoor firing range. Its large enough for vehicles to be brought inside and used in training scenarios. “We are looking at a more holistic approach,” said PSTC professor James Molloy.

Taking classes here, according to Molloy, is not just about being a good shot.

“The need was there for a training facility where everybody can come to train,” said Molloy.

One of the spots that is expected to get a lot of traffic is outside of the main building. A half mile tactical driving track was built. Located on 19 acres, its one of the largest training tracks of its kind in Texas.

This is more than a multi-million dollar toy for those who wear a badge and a gun. ACC has a broad vision for it. Classes will be taught in emergency management. Firefighters, paramedics even health care professions who are interested in security will be able to attend classes.

A demonstration in hand to hand combat was given to Calista Brown. She doesn’t want to be a cop. Brown is studying chemistry at ACC to enter into the medical profession.

She believes the training offered at the center will provide skills she could use. “Oh course, all the time, it’s not the first thing on the list for people ... But it is definitely something that needs to be on the list, a high priority especially in the medical field,” said Brown.

To be clear, this is no an easy 'A.'

Getting in requires a career choice that meets enrollment requirements.

The original plan was to include a swift water rescue training facility. ACC didn’t have enough money to build it. If funding becomes available it could be part of a second phase expansion.