Kan. Emergency Response Project First Of Its Kind

By: Stephanie Diffin Email
By: Stephanie Diffin Email

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November 16, 2010

It aims to keep you safe in case of disaster and save you money at the same time. State, city, and county first responders are joining together to be prepared for emergencies.

Adjoining facilities making up nearly 185,000 square feet are going up in northeast Wichita near the I-135, K-96 interchange. The project will replace and consolidate several facilities which the Guard says are outdated, and too small for current operations.

National Guard, state, city, and county leaders gathered to break ground on the facility Tuesday afternoon.

"This is just another example of what happens when people work together," said Governor Mark Parkinson.

People working together is the idea behind the new facility that will house training and emergency operations for the city, county, National Guard, and possibly state Highway Patrol.

"I remember sitting down many years ago and them asking, 'Will we see it in our lifetime?' And I told them, 'I'm positive we will.' And I walked away thinking to myself, 'Well I'm really not sure,'" said Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer.

Brewer worked on the project as a lieutenant in the National Guard. Now, he helps break ground as the mayor of Wichita. He says it's something he never would have imagined when he started the project 14 years ago.

But it took 14 years to develop a concept so new, state leaders expect it to serve as an example for the rest of the country on how to best respond to disasters.

"What this center says to Wichitans is that when and if we get hit, we'll be ready to respond," said Parkinson.

Plus, organizers say it will boost revenue during construction, and create jobs when its finished, as the guard will have 300 people working at the facility full time. State leaders say it will also save taxpayer money by combining resources between police, deputies, and the National Guard.

"We come out together at all hours of the day and night, so why not live with each other all the time?" said Kansas Adjutant General Tod Bunting.

Construction is set to start in June and last about a year-and-a-half to two years. The project will cost a total of nearly $100 million, which will come mostly from federal funds.

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