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Emergency response to get practice at Keystone

Imagine riding the lift up for the first run of the day, when a cable suddenly derails sending skiers and snowboarders tumbling toward the snow.

It’s an unlikely event, but should a similar disaster take place, Summit County’s emergency responders plan to be ready.

Thursday, emergency response agencies will test their skills, coordination and response times in an annual emergency preparedness exercise at Keystone Resort.



Volunteers, including actors playing Summit School District students out for a day on the hill, will help simulate the emergency situation that would follow a derailment of the Peru lift at Keystone Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Because we are such a small county and we have so many different agencies that need to work together, it’s good for us to be able to train,” sheriff’s office spokeswoman Tracy LeClair said of the need for the simulation. “We try to get a wide range of different types of scenarios, just to give agencies time to get together and respond to these mock scenarios before it actually happens in real life.”



In the past, emergency exercises have included a school shooting, wildfires and a hazardous materials situation.

More than 100 emergency responders from the sheriff’s office, hospital, fire districts and other local agencies will participate in the exercise. Approximately 50 community volunteers will play the patients, whose injuries will range from minor to fatal. “Controllers” will be on scene to keep the simulation moving forward, and emergency responders will be evaluated on a capability assessment.

Responders will have some forewarning in the simulated event, with regard to the location of the “emergency” and the number of victims.

“There has to be a little bit of artificiality,” LeClair said. “We don’t want to set them up to fail, but we do want to test those responses and how the agencies work together on scene.”

The simulation will also test fatality management coordination between the various agencies, transportation, patient management at medical centers and communication protocols, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.

Ambulances, buses and uniformed personnel will be at the Mountain House Base Area at Keystone, as well as Keystone Medical Center, Breckenridge Medical Center and St. Anthony Summit Medical Center and the roads between those locations, though no real emergency is in progress. Nearby businesses and residents will be warned that the simulation is happening.

Ski terrain leading to the Mountain House Base Area as well as the area itself will be closed during the exercise.


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