FOX 5 San Diego

Sheriff unveils new emergency vehicle training center

SAN DIEGO — Law enforcement can now practice evasive maneuvers and other emergency vehicle training at a facility that is the first of its kind in San Diego County.

First responders spend more time driving than on any other task, according to the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. The new Emergency Vehicle Operations Center, or EVOC, in Otay Mesa will provide hands-on education and professional training for future and current deputies, police officers, firefighters and ambulance and public works drivers.

The 40-acre facility features three areas where state-mandated training for first responders who operate emergency vehicles will take place. One track will be used to practice quickly and safely responding to emergency calls while a second area simulates driving and parking in a city block environment. A third element of the facility involves a skills pad for practicing quick lane changes, controlled braking, evasive maneuvering and driving in reverse.

Sergeant Michael Pepin with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said before the EVOC opened on Wednesday, the closest facility to practice these types of maneuvers was in San Bernardino.

“Before we trained at Qualcomm or SDSU stadium, then once the parking lot was taken down, we didn’t have any other options,” he said. “The academy is currently training at Pechanga, but as things start to spin back up, they want to use their parking lots for actual events. So this is up and running at the perfect time.”

The EVOC can also be used for teen driving safety programs and private events, from legal races to car shows. Income would fund maintenance and upkeep of the new facility.

Construction on the $32.4 million project began in October 2020 and created almost 300 jobs, according to the sheriff’s department. The City of San Diego and Miramar College each gave $5 million for the project.