State Preparedness Training Center

Emergency Vehicle Defensive Driving: 2014 in review

December 8, 2014

Just before Thanksgiving, a record-breaking lake effect storm hammered the Buffalo region. When it was over, much of the city and surrounding suburbs were under more than 5 feet of snow. Hundreds of residents were trapped both in their homes and on closed roadways. Dozens of structures collapsed and hundreds more were in jeopardy unless the snow was cleared. Medical workers could not get to work. At risk populations might have to be relocated.

Snowy field with police car in front

The storm overwhelmed local emergency services. State and local agencies responded by sending plows, dump trucks, search and rescue teams, ambulances, and generators. Hundreds of personnel, including some 500 from the Army and Air National Guard, had to be transported into an area with hazardous road conditions.

The Buffalo snowstorm is exactly the kind of event the Emergency Vehicle Defensive Driving program is designed to prepare the state’s emergency responder community for.

Just a week before the storm hit Buffalo, 28 students participating in the 3-day course were treated to a snow squall that covered the SPTC grounds and Emergency Vehicle Operations Track in just a few hours.

“Snowfall is a great training tool that you can't always plan for, even in the winter months in Central NY,” said Tom Brady, an NCSP Subject Matter Expert and EVDD instructor.

“On the first day, students were able to drive the skill courses without the snow and then on the second day to see how snow significantly impacts vehicle dynamics. The SPTC is a great location to learn these lessons without the risk of property damage and personal injury accidents.”

The November 12-14 course marked the final of twelve deliveries in 2014, making it the busiest EVDD season since the course’s first pilot in October 2012. The program more than quadrupled the amount of deliveries and students trained over 2013. Dozens of emergency personnel from the Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC), Office of Emergency Management (OEM), Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), and New York State and City corrections, as well as numerous local volunteer agencies, completed the course this year.

For the first time, NYS peace officers who successfully completed EVDD were issued certificates by the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) for attending the approved in-service course.

The SPTC/NCSP team didn’t stop with the 3-day EVDD course deliveries at the State Preparedness Training Center. Newly offered is a 1-day Trailer Towing for Emergency Responders course. This October’s successful pilot will be followed up with deliveries in 2015 for students who already completed the EVDD course.

Even with a full plate April through November, the team was constantly looking for ways to improve and expand the program’s reach to even more responders around the state.

“We found a lot of agencies are interested in getting their personnel trained in emergency vehicle operations,” said Ben O’Shaughnessy, the NCSP Senior Project Coordinator on the program. “Many times supervisors, particularly from the fire and EMS community, come back and tell us that sending their people with a vehicle to Oriskany for 3 days is difficult to spare. It can certainly be a burden to small volunteer agency from rural areas that do not have extra vehicles.”

With that in mind, the SPTC/NCSP decided to adapt the program to make it more accessible to agencies around the state. On November 9, the first mobile pilot of EVDD: Principles was delivered to a group of EMS students at the Livingston County Office of Emergency Management.

EVDD: Principles takes the first day of classroom instruction from the 3-day course and makes it available in mobile format to any local or state agency that requests it. The SPTC/NCSP instructors will travel to their home station to deliver the 8-hour course. Students can take EVDD: Principles as a stand-alone course or use it as the prerequisite to continue their emergency vehicle operations training. Students who successfully complete it can move on to EVDD: Skills and Performance, a 2-day hands-on course delivered on the SPTC’s Emergency Vehicle Operations Track (EVOT).

The SPTC and NCSP are continually looking to expand emergency vehicle training offered through the Center. Interested agencies should check the SPTC calendar on or Facebook for courses being offered. Any agency interested in hosting a mobile delivery of EVDD: Principles at their home station should contact the SPTC at (315) 768-5689 or