Sheriff unveils new emergency vehicle training facility

SAN DIEGO – Law enforcement can now practice evasive maneuvers and other training on emergency vehicles at a facility that is the first of its kind in San Diego County.

First responders spend more time driving than on any other task, according to the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. The new Emergency Vehicle Operations Center, or EVOC, in Otay Mesa will provide hands-on education and skills training to future and current MPs, police, firefighters, and ambulance and public works drivers.

The 40-acre facility includes three areas where state-mandated training will take place for first responders who operate emergency vehicles. One track will be used to practice responding quickly and safely to emergency calls while a second zone will simulate driving and parking in a block-out environment. A third element of the installation involves a skill block to practice fast lane changes, controlled braking, evasive maneuvers and driving in reverse.

Sgt. Michael Pepin of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said that before EVOC opened on Wednesday, the closest facility to practice these types of maneuvers was in San Bernardino.

“Before we trained at the Qualcomm or SDSU stadium, and then after the parking lot was taken down, we had no other options,” he said. “The academy is currently training in Pechanga, but as things start again they want to use their parking lots for real events. So, it’s up and running at the perfect time.

The EVOC can also be used for teen driving safety programs and private events, from legal races to auto shows. The revenues would finance the maintenance and upkeep of the new facility.

Construction on the $ 32.4 million project began in October 2020 and created nearly 300 jobs, according to the sheriff’s department. The city of San Diego and Miramar College each donated $ 5 million for the project.

Milton S. Rodgers