The last week of February and continuing through March 15th, the Bladen County First Responder Training Center at White Lake has been and will be a busy location.
Gary Turlington, with the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office, said the training center has hosted the entirety of the uniformed members of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol Troop B, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, and local law enforcement agencies have all utilized the facility.
Turlington said the Highway Patrol is conducting their spring firearms training, proficiency, and qualifications. That brings more than 250 State Troopers into Bladen County, said Turlington.
“They will return in the fall,” said Turlington.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Enforcement Officers are also using the facility this week conducting their less than lethal weapons training, according to Turlington.
“These Wildlife Resources Commission Officers are also from this region of the state. Additionally, the Blade County Sheriff’s Office and allied agency officers (Bladenboro, Elizabethtown, White Lake) and detention officers are training on site completing their required annual Hazardous Materials and Blood Bourne Pathogens Training,” said Turlington.
All together, 60 to 70 officers were utilizing the facility on Thursday, which is in a constant state of improvement thanks to the many volunteers from fire, rescue, and regional law enforcement agencies. The training endeavors have been supported by Bladen Community College.
“The college purchased tables and chairs recently for our new classrooms,” said Turlington.
The site will also serve as a staging area in the event of a natural or man-made disaster such as Hurricane Matthew in the future. The facility has auxiliary generators in the event of a loss of public utilities and it can sustain rescue and emergency operations from the training center for an extended period of time, according to Turlington.
“We are a long, long way from being finished. But, we continue to labor towards the overall goal of a fully functional regional training center for first responders,” said Turlington. “Bringing all of these officers in to our county bolsters our local economy. Last summer the entire Sampson County sheriffs office uniform patrol division and special operations sections attend a driver training here at the Curtis Brown airfield.”
The Bladen County Sheriffs Office specialized training unit will soon be offering driver training again to allied agencies.
“Sheriff Jim McVicker encourages our agencies to work closely together to more effectively serve the citizens of our county and region,” said Turlington.