New Summit County public safety group brings stakeholders together for first quarterly meeting

Called the Multi-Agency Coordination group, the goal is to strengthen emergency response in the county

Brian Bovaird, Summit County director of emergency management, talks at the podium of the first quarterly Multi-Agency Coordination Group meeting at the South Branch Library in Breckenridge on Thursday, April 7. In attendance were leaders from various local and regional public safety organizations.
Jenna deJong/Summit Daily News

In an effort to create a more holistic concept of emergency preparedness and planning, Summit County created a new task force called the Multi-Agency Coordination Group. Led by Brian Bovaird, Summit County director of emergency management, the group’s purpose is to approach emergency planning, response and recovery on a broader scale and ensure that various public safety entities are all on the same page if and when an incidence occurs within county limits.

The first meeting was held Thursday, April 7. In attendance were leaders from organizations like the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, the National Weather Service, the Summit County Coroner’s Office, Summit School District, The Red, White and Blue Fire Protection District, Summit Fire & EMS, Colorado State Patrol, High Country Conservation Center, Xcel Energy, American Red Cross, Summit County Public Health and more. Leaders from all four town police departments were also in attendance.

During introductions, Bovaird said he wanted stakeholders to have a better understanding of the county’s entire emergency response system and to ensure that each department and office has an understanding of how they fit into various response plans.

“My self interest is that one huge part of emergency management is planning. We have lots of existing plans, and we have lots of plans that we need to develop,” Bovaird said. “In an environment like this, where I can present these plans to you … hopefully, we’ll get some feedback so those plans can truly be whole-community plans.”

After introductions, the meeting kicked off with an update from Bovaird about various agenda items and projects. Bovaird said that during each quarterly meeting, Jay Nelson, deputy chief of administration from the Red, White and Blue Fire Protection District, would give an update on the local emergency planning committee, which helps assist in planning for emergencies involving hazardous waste.

Bovaird gave updates about some of the projects his department was handling too. One of these was adding back-up power generators to more of the county’s facilities. Currently, Bovaird said the only facility to have this kind of power was the emergency services building, which currently houses the 911 center, emergency management offices, sheriff’s special operations personnel and the emergency operations center. The emergency operations center is activated to help respond to major events or other public health and safety emergencies. It was recently activated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bovaird said his team has submitted a grant request for $750,000 to complete this work.

Other updates Bovaird gave to the group included brief announcements about various projects like the emergency operations center renovation, re-writing the emergency operations plan and that his department will be drafting a three-year training and exercise plan.

After Bovaird’s presentation, other leaders from various organizations spoke and gave brief updates.

Nelson shared some information about the local emergency planning committee, and Summit Fire & EMS spokesperson Steve Lipsher spoke about an event his organization is planning for the public about wildfire preparedness.

“We intend for this to be very interactive, where our residents and property owners come and learn about defensible space and preparing an evacuation kit or talking with their insurance agent, what questions they should be asking now,” Lipsher said.

Lipsher said the event would feature guest speakers too. It’s scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 21 at Summit Middle School.

The rest of the meeting’s theme focused on water.

Breckenridge Public Works Director James Phelps spoke about the Goose Pasture Tarn Dam rehabilitation project and how it will kick off another year of construction this season.

Troy Wineland, water commissioner for District 36 of the state Division of Water Resources — which includes Summit County — gave a brief presentation about how this year’s snowpack levels will impact spring runoff and pointed to the annual State of the River event where stakeholders could get more information of what’s to come for this upcoming season. The event is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on May 24 at the Silverthorne Pavilion.

Some of the last presenters to share announcements were Mark Watson, special operations sergeant with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, and fire Capt. Matt Benedict with the Red, White and Blue Fire Protection District. Watson shared how his team worked with Summit County Rescue Group to assist in swift water rescue missions. Benedict notified the group that his firefighters were already preparing for what’s expected to be a busy fire season.

The next multi-agency coordination group meeting is scheduled for August.

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