Timmins boasts one-of-a-kind integrated facility

Timmins boasts one-of-a-kind integrated facility
Timmins Daily Press

At its official opening on Monday, the Integrated Emergency Services Complex at Northern College was hailed as a one-of-a-kind facility.

“There is no other facility like this at any of the colleges throughout Ontario, one that sees emergency first-responder students receiving their education under the same roof as operating fire and EMS stations,” said college president Fred Gibbons, addressing the large crowd of students and local officials and delegates from across the Cochrane District who attended the opening.
 
“To me, that is the magic of this facility.”
 
The $19.2-million facility is home to the college’s Pre-Service Firefighter, Paramedic, Paramedic Bridging and Police Foundations programs, and includes community partnerships with the City of Timmins’ Whitney Fire Station, Cochrane District EMS and Health Sciences North Base Hospital.
 
Some of it is still under construction but near completion.
 
“The facility is comprised of two wings: An academic wing and then the wing that houses the fire and EMS,” Gibbons told The Daily Press. “The academic wing was ready for classes and we’ve been using that as of September.
 
“The EMS ambulance service should be in late next week, and the fire service will be in for January. There is still a bit of construction going on in that portion of the building.”
 
Gibbons said it was a “proud day in the history of Northern College” that was a long time coming.
 
“The earliest discussions for a new emergency training facility at the college emanated from discussions with then fire chief Lester Cudmore and Judy Rantala, the college’s director of health sciences and emergency services, both of whom are here today,” Gibbons noted.
 
“In the ensuing years, while waiting for funding opportunities to present themselves, interior thoughts and ideas of a training facility were refined and community partners were approached to take a physical presence in a proposed new integrated training facility.
 
“When the college began to pitch the need for funding to the senior levels of government, it wasn’t a particularly hard sell. Yes, we had to wait for the right funding opportunities to arise but it wasn’t a particularly hard sell. The funders could see the advantages a training facility of this nature would bring to the community, to our students, and to the region.
 
“This is a facility, not just for the college. It’s a facility for the community as well. The professional first responders will now have access to state-of-the-art training facilities that are unparalleled anywhere in Ontario.
 
“All of this contributes to a great, powerful synergy that will soon distinguish this Integrated Emergency Services Complex for post-secondary education and training and professional training throughout Ontario.”
 
In addition to brand new fire, paramedic and policing facilities, the 40,000 square-foot building also boasts a mock courtroom, jail cell, exterior intersection, interview, finger print rooms and scenario labs. It also has an integrated Advanced Disaster Management Simulator which will offer students a chance to prove what they’ve learned in the classroom through scenarios in a true-to-life virtual environment.
 
“We now have an amazing facility with advanced technology that is the first in Canada, along with simulation and scenario labs that will allow us to produce graduates that have received the highest quality education and training available,” said Gibbons.
 
“I would be remiss in not mentioning that these same facilities and technology are available for our community and our regional professional emergency first responders to train in and pursue unique mandatory certifications of various natures.
 
“One such partnership that will allow us to achieve this is through our recently announced partnership with the Ontario Fire College where Northern College has been designated as one of their regional training centres.”
 
Guest speakers at the opening included Mayor Steve Black, college board chairman and mayor-elect George Pirie, fire chief Normand Beauchamp and director of Cochrane District emergency medical services Jean Carriere.
 
Former mayor Tom Laughren, a long-time volunteer firefighter himself, served as master of ceremonies
 
Laughren urged the students and community members gathered to “utilize this facility. It’s beautiful … Get the message out because there is no complex anywhere that I know of in Ontario that can rival this.”