The Heartland Preparedness Center, located at the southeast corner of I-135 and K-96, has been awarded a $500,000 federal grant by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The grant will allow the Center to provide a backup emergency operations function in coordination with the Sedgwick County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at 714 N. Main.
The Heartland Preparedness Center project has been in existence since 1990s as a cooperative effort among the Wichita Police Department, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, the Kansas Army National Guard and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Federal funding for the military component has previously been approved in the amount of $83.9 million. The City of Wichita and Sedgwick County are sharing the $8.3 million cost of a training facility adjacent to the military portion.
The project is currently in the design phase and construction is expected to begin this year. Completion is scheduled for June 2013.
The primary purpose of the Center is to enhance the communication, cooperation, training and response capabilities of the project partners. The alternate EOC will allow the continuation of emergency response coordination in the event the primary EOC in downtown Wichita is unable to operate.
“We are very pleased that the Department of Homeland Security has approved this funding,” said Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer. “The addition of a backup EOC function will provide another critical function to a project that already is a major priority for our community.”
Sedgwick County Emergency Manager Director Randy Duncan also praised the additional resource and its contribution to the project.
“Sedgwick County Emergency Management eagerly anticipates the additional capabilities a designated alternate Emergency Operations Center will bring to our community,” he said. “This will allow our community to continue the coordination necessary to protect lives and save property if our primary EOC becomes unusable.”
The grant application was jointly submitted by the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County, with the assistance of the Kansas Highway Patrol, which serves as the State Administrative Agency for the Department of Homeland Security.
“As the State Administrative Agency, the Kansas Highway Patrol is pleased to partner with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/FEMA, the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County to build an Emergency Operations Center,” said Col. Terry Maple, Kansas Highway Patrol superintendent. “Establishing a backup facility to the state of art EOC function provided by Sedgwick County Emergency Management will ensure continuity of operations in the event the primary facility is unavailable or overwhelmed."
The enhancements provided by the additional federal funding include the dedication of an existing room as the backup EOC, which requires the hardening of the room walls to meet Federal Emergency Management Administration standards. Special heating and cooling features and additional electrical and data capacities are also among the necessary enhancements.
The HPC grant was one of two Kansas awards out of 403 applications in the FEMA Region VII district covering Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska. The other Kansas award was a $250,000 grant to Johnson County.