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During the Monday morning county commissioners' meeting, Sweetwater Fire Chief Grant Madden shared that the Emergency Vehicle Driving Simulator from the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX)--part of the Texas A&M University System--would be at the fire station for the first part of the week.
From Monday through Wednesday, a morning and afternoon session was held, which offered training on defensive driving, followed by operation on the simulator. The simulator gives drivers various scenarios to be completed.
David Rosier, the TEEX instructor, shared that the simulator was obtained through a grant and has been in use since 2010.
The device travels and trains all over the state of Texas to places like fire departments and police departments. The safety-oriented class helps emergency responders travel through traffic in a safer manner.
Rosier noted that the "accidents" that occur while on the simulator help trainees learn and discuss real life experiences through hands-on training.
During our interview, the simulator was tested by SFD (Sweetwater Fire Department) firefighter Clinton McKeehan. With McKeehan at the wheel, Rosier had control of the simulator.
McKeehan "drove" through various weather elements, which included rain, snow and clear conditions. He also experienced a blown-out tire and rounded out his driving in a rather windy environment.
Rosier also noted that the simulator can also be changed to fit the driver's occupation, such as an ambulance, ladder truck, dump truck or pumper truck. The selected vehicle will then exhibit the same handling characteristics as its real-life counterpart.
The course is free and also offers opportunities for certification. During its stop in Sweetwater, local law enforcement entities and county workers took part in the limited program.