Camp Ripley’s new Emergency Vehicle Operations Course is statewide resource

Assistant Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Mark Dunaski addresses those attending the grand opening of the Emergency Vehicle Operations Course at Camp Ripley, Nov 29.

Training track is 4.3 miles of asphalt, concrete and gravel, including skills pad

By Jennie ZeitlerStaff Writer 

The new state-of-the-art Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC) located at Camp Ripley is now open and ready to be used by multiple groups from around Morrison County and Minnesota.

“This resource will provide essential hands-on training that can be applied in real-life situations,” said State Patrol Lt. A.J. Fulton. “The course is truly a statewide asset and will be available for agencies and organizations from around Minnesota. It’s another way we are training, preparing and improving the ways we work to keep Minnesotans safe.”

Two Minnesota State Patrol vehicles outfitted with special rubber bumper pads practice maneuvers on the icy skills pad at Camp Ripley’s new Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC).

The EVOC is a 4.3-mile training track that allows users to safely practice tactical driving maneuvers in a controlled environment. The track has multiple types of surfaces and roadways and can simulate various road conditions.

The course includes high- and low-speed roads in both rural and urban settings, an interchange, a skills pad and an urban simulation area.

It can be used for exercises for emergency responders, in scenarios requiring a multi-agency response such as serious vehicle crashes, hazardous material spills and vehicle pursuits.

“The design process began in 2009 with various agencies being asked, ‘What do you want?’” said Fulton. “We looked at other tracks in Colorado, Washington and Texas. This is a premier facility.”

“The course is designed for cooperative exercises between agencies in a controlled environment,” said Mark Dunaski, assistant commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. “It’s making sure that (emergency) workers get home safely on any given day.”

The EVOC was developed through a collaborative effort between the State Patrol and other agencies and organizations including the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, North Memorial, Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association, Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, Homeland Security Emergency Management and the Minnesota National Guard. The state patrol will operate the course.

The track includes a 300-foot by 700-foot skill slab, 12 inches thick. Its five acres can be adjusted to replicate icy conditions.

“This is ultimately about saving lives by increasing driving skills,” said Camp Ripley Post Commander Col. Scott St. Sauver. “We can put a young soldier or airman behind the wheel and simulate adverse weather conditions for practice.”

Sgt. Ruben Marichalar of the State Patrol has been involved with the EVOC since its inception. Construction began in April and was completed the last week in November.

“This is a multi-agency training facility,” Marichalar said. “The Minnesota State Patrol will use the course 14 – 17 weeks a year, and it will then be open for use by other agencies.”

“The course can be broken down into three to four separate areas for different agencies to use at the same time,” said Fulton.

The EVOC is phase one of a multi-phase training location. “The proposed additions included in Phase II include an urban grid, an overpass and a 30,000 square foot housing and dining building,” Fulton said.

The State Patrol’s training and development section is formulating a business plan for EVOC users. Agencies interested in using the track or learning more about it can contact Lt. Adam Fulton, State Patrol, at (320) 616-2521 or [email protected]