Sedgwick Co. looks to build emergency preparedness center

The new facility would provide extra storage needed for quick emergency response times and space for vaccine testing and immunizations.
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 6:02 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Plans are underway for a new emergency preparedness center in Sedgwick County. The nearly 27,000-square-foot facility would provide more space for vehicles and emergency supplies and create more jobs.

“911 has a need to expand,” said Assistant County Manager Rusty Leeds. “They’ve lost conference room space on the second floor. They’re going to be needing to occupy more space on the first floor which kind of leaves emergency management without office space.”

County commissioners voted 5-0 on Wednesday to amend its capital improvement program, giving the county the ability to buy some land for the new emergency preparedness building. It will cost nearly $16 million to construct.

Leeds said the new building will provide extra storage needed for quick emergency response times and space for vaccine testing and immunizations.

“We had supplies, but they were scattered across the county - in different locations. There wasn’t a good inventory system,” he said.

Sedgwick County Commissioner David Dennis said the need for more space became evident during the pandemic.

“In addition during COVID, we learned that we need a facility able to store PPE to be able to do immunizations if necessary, to be able to do testing if necessary and so forth,” Dennis said.

More than a decade ago, Sedgwick County, the City of Wichita, and the Kansas Army National Guard partnered to build the Heartland Preparedness Center. While the county and the City of Wichita split $3.8 million for infrastructure, they ultimately decided against the joint location citing budget concerns. The building is currently occupied by the KNG. Dennis said now a new building is needed for the county.

“That’s mainly a state function. We have to have a building to do that locally,” he said. “If there was a disaster that would strike McConnell for example, we would be on scene side by side with the military. If there is something that happens downtown or like the Andover tornado, the McConnell folks would side by side with us\, but we coordinate that all through emergency preparedness.”