Each year, about 14,000 people get safety and disaster training from Butler County Community College.
Officials there expect that number to rise now that the school has received $1.2 million to expand its public safety program.
"It is a great opportunity for us. It will take us to a level where we have never been," said Mel Bliss, coordinator of the school's public safety training facility, the largest in Western Pennsylvania.
The federal grant primarily will be used to improve facilities, to equip a command setup for first responders, and to train municipal and industrial professionals, as well as some local military to handle chaotic and unpredictable scenarios.
Training includes preparations for all types of emergency situations, including rescues, crime scenes, evacuations and terror attacks.
About half of the grant will be used to buy simulation technology -- real time and interactive audio-visual scenarios of emergencies, said Steve Catt, the school's executive director of planning and external relations.
That technology will be particularly useful in the winter, when weather prevents use of much use of the program's outdoor training facilities, including a rescue tower and a rail car that can simulate fires. …