Emergency experts address conference in Breckenridge
BRECKENRIDGE – If the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks didn’t serve as a wake-up call for Colorado towns and cities in need of revising their disaster plans, this summer’s wildfires have been a reveille bugle.
Emergency preparedness was the topic of a seminar held Friday at Beaver Run in Breckenridge as part of the Colorado Municipal League’s 80th annual conference. Parker administrator Aden Hogan Jr., the former assistant city manager of Oklahoma City, presented a short film on the subject, along with some of his professional experience. The state’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) director, Tom Greir, also presented details of Colorado’s disaster response plans and explained the resources available through his office to towns and counties.
Hogan urged the municipal administrators in the audience to develop a plan if they don’t already have one, to test it and to revise it regularly.
“I believe that vision, planning, testing and the evaluation of disaster plans are critical to the safety of a community,” Hogan said. “Planning is like a serve in tennis – if you don’t get it in, nothing’s going to happen after that.”
Summit County has its own disaster plan, which has been distributed to and reviewed by the towns within the county. The towns make revisions to fit the plan to their community. Frisco, for example, has adapted its emergency plan to reflect contingencies such as the flooding of Tenmile Creek. In 1994, the creek water rose to dangerous levels and citizens lined its banks filling sandbags to protect nearby houses. The emergency plan was developed, in part, as a response to the flooding.
Greir said the OEM, a division of the Department of Local Affairs, has many resources for local governments. The division offers hazard analysis and exercise design and training, among other services to ready municipalities for disaster planning. He said Colorado’s wildfires are raising the level of awareness on the topic – and that’s a good thing.
“We’ve had eight wildfire emergencies in the past eight years, but this year alone, we’ve had 11,” Greir said. “Never before has there been a presidential declaration of a disaster for wildfire, until now, in 56 of our counties.”
The presentation gave elected officials and administrators plenty to think about. Frisco Mayor Bob Moscatelli and Councilmember Bernie Zurbriggen were among them.
“I’m definitely going to go back and look at our plan,” Moscatelli said. “Sitting here, I couldn’t help thinking of all the things we need to plan for; of course, fire, but also flood, and just imagine what would happen if there was a serious accident on I-70. Say a tanker explodes. There’s a lot to think about.”
Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 237 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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