Wildfires, mudslides, floods and mass casualty events? Summit County begins holistic risk assessment

A police vehicle is stopped on Main Street in Breckenridge on Aug. 31, 2020. Summit County plans to preform a Threats and Hazards Identified Risk Assessment to determine the county’s capability to respond to man-made threats.
Photo by Liz Copan / Summit Daily News archive

Local officials hope to better understand Summit County’s ability to respond to natural and man-made threats before the end of the year, and they want the public’s help.

On April 1, the county posted a request for proposals from contractors to complete a Threat and Hazards Identification and Risk Assessment and a Stakeholder Preparedness Review to go along with it. The documents are part of a federal effort to have every community in the country achieve the National Preparedness Goal.

The goal describes a situation in which the U.S. is “a secure and resilient nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk,” according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Comprehensive Preparedness Guide.

Until this point, Summit County has had a Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan, which focuses on the county’s response to natural hazards like wildfires, floods and earthquakes. The new plan will add man-made threats, such as mass casualty and terror incidents, to that list, said Brian Bovaird, Summit County’s emergency management director.

Bovaird said the county officials along with a contractor will seek to answer three questions when it comes to threats. What threats and hazards are in Summit County that can affect the community? If they occurred what would be the impact on the community? And, based on those impacts, what capability should the county have to respond to them?

The county officials will evaluate everything from local 911 operator capacity to training for law enforcement officials to determine the county’s capabilities when it comes to threats.

“Whether you’re Summit County or New York City you never have enough money and you never have enough staffing,” Bovaird said. “This is really valuable for us, especially being a smaller jurisdiction, to really get some clarity.”

When complete, the Threats and Hazards Identification Risk Assessment will be reviewed every three years. To go along with it, the county will also produce a Stakeholder Preparedness Review, which will be updated every year.

The process will include involvement from stakeholders, including homeland security officers, local law enforcement officers, professional associations, schools, the media and more.

“We can’t prepare for this kind of stuff in a vacuum,” Bovaird said.

Although the subject matter is serious, Bovaird said he’s excited to get started with the process for developing the document, which has been a goal of his since he started as emergency management director.

Ideally, the county would have completed the risk assessment in the past few years, but the COVID-19 pandemic stood in the way of that plan. However, the pandemic demonstrated the value of having an “all-hazards approach” to emergency preparedness, Bovaird said.

“Now, even more, we’re motivated to better integrate public health plans with emergency management plans and continue our all-hazards focus on training and preparedness,” he said. “That’s also what the (risk assessment) does. The key to that is getting whole community involvement.”

The county has budgeted $50,000 to develop the risk assessment and Stakeholder Preparedness Review. That money will cover the cost of a contractor who will help the county complete the process.

The county plans to hire the contractor by May 23. After that point, the county will establish a committee of stakeholders to help develop the document.


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