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September 16, 2015


The “Excelsior Challenge” will test emergency response plans and responders’ skills at the State Preparedness Training Center

This week, more than 100 bomb technicians, canine handlers, and tactical team officers from across New York State (see link below for list of agencies) will participate in the “2015 Excelsior Challenge” emergency response exercise at the State Preparedness Training Center (STPC) in Oriskany, New York.  Experts from the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and Canada will join responders from across New York for this event.

The “Excelsior Challenge,” developed in conjunction with the National Center for Security and Preparedness (NCSP), is designed to enhance coordination and integration among bomb squads, canine teams, and tactical teams, which is critical given the increasing complexity of recent events, both in New York State and across the nation. 

“The ‘Excelsior Challenge’ continues and enhances New York State’s tradition of providing top-notch training to those who are on the front lines of emergency response,” said NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) Commissioner John P. Melville.  “Not only does this training make it safer for everyone who lives, works or visits our great State, but it also improves the readiness and safety of emergency personnel who must answer some of the most dangerous calls.  The ‘Excelsior Challenge’ is yet another exciting opportunity to showcase the tremendous resources and training that the State Preparedness Training Center has to offer our brave emergency responders.”

The event will build on similar events hosted at the SPTC in September 2014, and the recent “Raven’s Challenge” bomb squad exercise in June of this year.  Attendees’ capabilities and skills will be tested in real-world scenarios based on the current threat environment, and will utilize all of the grounds and facilities at the SPTC.  A series of scenario-based activities will train and test interoperability among these specialty teams, who will also receive classroom-based and skill development training to complement the scenario-based activities.

Participants will participate in a series of sophisticated scenarios, including a manhunt for a suspect that involves Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), a major bombing event that includes secondary devices, and a terrorist attack at a mass gathering event.

New elements of the Excelsior Challenge this year include:

  • Technical Rescue experts from the DHSES Office of Fire Prevention and Control will support the ‘Excelsior Challenge’ in a scenario that requires rope rescue and structural collapse support.  Multi-disciplinary coordination between the fire service and law enforcement is a critical component of the State’s homeland security efforts.
  • Building on the recent Raven’s Challenge Exercise, the FBI will activate a Bomb Management Center to coordinate the deployment of resources and the flow of information during the scenarios.
  • In a unique joint effort with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Bomb Technicians will be able to test their capabilities on the “Robot Rodeo” training apparatus during a competition hosted by DHSES.  The effective use of robots is critical to the safety and effectiveness of bomb squads’ response to incidents with IEDs.  

The State Preparedness Training Center (SPTC) is a 1,100-acre state-of-the-art facility that boasts several, diverse training environments for an entire range of emergency preparedness and response training.  The STPC offers opportunities for dynamic emergency first responder training, including classroom lectures, discussions, and reality- and high-performance scenario-based training.  A unique feature of the SPTC is its CityScape complex, a scenario-based training center that encompasses life-size and realistic locations, including a high school, motel, shopping mall, courthouse, and café, along with apartments, store fronts, and offices.

New York State is home to more than a dozen FBI accredited bomb squads, 200 explosive detection canine teams, and 100 tactical teams.  DHSES supports these law enforcement specialty teams through targeted homeland security grant funding, annual conferences to share information and lessons learned, and capability assessments, and specialized training and exercise opportunities, like the Excelsior Challenge.  


The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) and its four offices -- Counter Terrorism, Emergency Management, Fire Prevention and Control, and Interoperable and Emergency Communications -- provide leadership, coordination and support for efforts to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorism and other man-made and natural disasters, threats, fires and other emergencies.  For more information, visit the DHSES Facebook page, follow @NYSDHSES on Twitter, or visit dhses.ny.gov.



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