Public safety remains one of the critical aspects of any society. Whether it’s a police officer, firefighter, or EMS technician, these professions play an important role in keeping our public safe, protecting us from natural disasters, or helping those vulnerable during a medical crisis.
For our community, Western Technical College plays a huge role in training the next generation of public safety heroes. The Sparta Public Safety Training Facility serves as the central hub for career training in Western’s Fire Protection and Criminal Justice programs, as well as the Law Enforcement Academy. In addition to those programs, area police and fire departments use the space to continue training exercises that only Western can provide within the large, 11-county district Western serves.
But the facility was in need of a facelift. The Law Enforcement Academy’s shooting range had recently been relocated, leavening a large space inside underutilized. In addition, Western’s EMS program, which had been housed on the main La Crosse campus, was making the move to the Sparta facility to better accommodate student space and resources. That’s why last year, Western invested $4.7 million into a remodeling and expansion project for the facility, which was completed last fall.
“Every space was touched one way or the other,” said Kevin Dean, dean of the Health and Public Safety division at Western. All the classrooms received fresh paint, new flooring, and better equipment for the digital age. The large space left behind from the shooting range was converted into four classrooms, with the ability to combine into one. The additional space helps accommodate the move of the EMS and Paramedic programs as well.
“The space is providing better training opportunities for our paramedic and EMS students that were not always possible on the La Crosse campus,” said Dean. “Having all of these programs under one roof makes the most sense logistically and provides a better student experience.”
Perhaps the biggest cosmetic change to the facility comes in the back of the building, where an expansion helps extend Western’s Law Enforcement Academy. Previously, the Academy’s training area was confined to a small gym space. Now, the expansion helps extend the upstairs into a formal gym and classroom space. The expansion also helps add additional fire bay space for training scenarios.
“The project was critical as we continue to see a demand for public safety careers in our region,” said Western President Roger Stanford. “The space is a remarkable upgrade to our facility and is a first-class building for public safety education.”
To learn more about Western’s Sparta facility, visit https://www.westerntc.edu/public-safety-training-facility.