Office of Homeland Security
Emergency Responders Meet in Lexington for Training and Exercises

Press Release Date:  Monday, June 08, 2009  
Contact Information:  Michael Embry

FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 8, 2009) -- More than 1,000 emergency responders will converge in Lexington this week for a patriotic-themed Homeland Security Conference and Kentucky State Fire School, taking courses ranging from meth-lab awareness to aircraft firefighting to arson detection.

The event runs from June 10-14 at various sites including the Lexington Convention Center, Blue Grass Airport, and Lexington Fire Training Academy. The theme is “Patriotism – A Salute to the United States of America, Our Flag and Our Armed Forces.”

Brig. Gen. John W. Heltzel, head of the state’s Division of Emergency Management Services, is one of the featured speakers. Attendees who are in the military service have been encouraged to wear their uniforms at the opening ceremony.

“These extraordinary citizens have chosen to dedicate their lives to serving their country, state, and communities, and they set an example for us all to follow,” Gov. Steve Beshear said of the first responders. “This event provides pivotal training that is irreplaceable to those dedicated to this field.”

“We are proud to be able to work with first responders and help them prepare for the emergencies they have to confront on a daily basis,” said Thomas L. Preston, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security (KOHS). “We know communities across the commonwealth benefit by having emergency personnel participate in the training that is offered at the conference and fire school.”

One of the courses offered by KOHS is the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program, an interactive program that provides hands-on experience in exercise design and evaluation that translates to real-world responsibilities.

Since firefighters have been taking on additional responsibilities as first responders, two of the courses deal with weather-related emergencies and large animal rescue.

The exhibit area, which is open June 12-13, features the largest showcase of emergency-service equipment in Kentucky. As part of the patriotism theme, the first 500 attendees to the exhibitors’ displays will receive a U.S. flag.

Ronnie Day, executive director of the Kentucky Fire Commission, notes that this is the 80th annual year for the state fire school.

“We are proud to say that this is longest running fire school in the nation,” Day said. “Without the support of the firefighters and exhibitors this could not have remained the event it is today.”