County, Red Cross launch campaign
SUMMIT COUNTY – When a disaster hits Summit County, whether it’s in the form of a flood, a wildfire, a snowstorm or an ice storm, emergency responders will be tied up, leaving much of citizens’ well-being in their own hands.”We’ll be responding to 911 calls and dealing with motor vehicle accidents, dealing with the fires, dealing with the flooding itself and what we need our citizens to do is to be prepared to help us out,” said Sgt. Jonathan Comyn, the county’s emergency manager.The American Red Cross and the county launched a citizen preparedness campaign Monday, urging locals to be ready to support themselves for up to three days following an emergency.”I think we all learned not only from 9/11, but even from the snowstorms last fall, that being prepared – yourself and your family – with the basic necessities can only help,” said Robert Thompson, director of communications for the Mile High chapter of the Red Cross.The most important component of an emergency that people should be prepared for is an evacuation order, Comyn said. That means having a kit ready to go that contains one gallon of water per person for up to three days, non-perishable food, a flashlight, tools, clothing and important personal documents.
Citizens should also have a home evacuation plan in place that lays out where family members should rendezvous and maps out evacuation routes from the home.Another tip: Adhere to the county’s reverse 911 system when it calls with an evacuation order, said County Commissioner Bob French.French said he’s heard of people not wanting to leave their homes when they receive a warning on the phone system.”These (calls) are phased so that you will have time to get out before the fire trucks start coming up behind your place, but if you don’t leave then, when they do have to get you out, it will endanger the lives of the people who are coming to help you,” French said.The reverse 911 system has only been activated twice since its creation in June 2003, said communications center director Chris Benson. The first was last May when shots had been fired in Frisco and a message went out instructing residents to stay inside. The second occurred last September when 217 calls were placed to evacuate homes near the Ophir Mountain Fire.That history shows that the county doesn’t throw out a message unless there truly is a need, Comyn said.
Citizens can also donate their time to help out the Red Cross with tasks such as setting up emergency shelters in the event of a disaster.”I think we’re well-prepared from the law enforcement and the public safety side, but what we’re looking for now is truly volunteerism on a massive scale in Summit County,” said Summit County Sheriff John Minor.The Red Cross has been pushing preparedness along the Front Range since the inception of its Prepare Colorado program in 2004, but this is the first big campaign in Summit County.Comyn and Red Cross workers will continue reaching out to citizens through public service announcements, programs on the county television station and presentations at public meetings.Then on June 1, the county’s incident management team will orchestrate a mock evacuation in the Ptarmigan Neighborhood near Silverthorne.
Questions?Call the local American Red Cross center at (970) 262-0530, Summit County Emergency Management at (970) 453-2232, ext. 336, or visit http://www.preparecolorado.org.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13625, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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