This is one of a series of guest columns by city of Meridian department heads.

Meridian Public Safety Department and Training Facility has had a mission for the past 25 years to provide current training for first responders of Meridian, as well as the Southeast United States.

During times of emergencies, our agency serves as the emergency management lead for the City of Meridian, ensuring a coordinated response with our first responders, local hospitals and other government agencies all to ensure the best response capabilities possible for the citizens of Meridian.

The Meridian Public Safety Department is located at the Meridian Public Safety Training Facility, made up of 99-acres in southeast Meridian first providing training on basic firefighter and law enforcement skills followed by expanding our training availability to partnerships with military units, state and federal governments, as well as private agencies to meet their training needs.

GUEST VIEW: Meridian public safety department, facility provide range of training for responders

Doug Stephens

Meridian Public Safety Training Facility may be operated by the city of Meridian on a day-to-day basis, but is here to serve both the city and county emergency responders. The training facility is unique in that other communities in Mississippi have training facilities that either serve law enforcement or fire services. Ours is multi-discipline, capable of serving fire, law enforcement, emergency management, emergency medical services, military and technical rescue units equally. We have the ability for firefighters to start a fire, put it out, and start it right back; while law enforcement is making tactical entries with live gunshots in another building on the property.

The best part of our capabilities happens when the two come together to train to work together at a rapidly changing event.

Through our partnership with National Association For Search and Rescue what started as a way to train our responders to search for missing people has now had more than 400 Mississippi first responders complete training. These highly regarded professionals have assisted the states of Florida and Virginia following hurricanes in the last year. Responders leave with a deep regard for the rolling wooded hills on our facility that teach realistic skills for each responder.

Our partnerships with military units, both state and national, assist them to train their personnel in firearms as well as search and rescue, utilizing collapse structures and wooded terrains. This partnership allows them unique training opportunities to meet their needed training goals.

Private and government agencies are invited to train at our facility, and may contact us at any time to set up their training needs.

Doug Stephens is public safety and training director (Homeland Security director) for the city of Meridian.

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