Local Residents Get Face-to-Face Disaster Training
Last April, many area residents experienced a major scare when extreme wildfires threatened Teller County’s borders.
Even though the fire danger conditions have since lessened, locals know that it is still wise to be prepared for a disaster. A major wildfire has yet to strike the county this year, but local officials have still worked towards getting people prepared when that day occurs. Officials say it is not a matter of if, but a matter of when, regarding future disasters striking Teller County.
This reality has set the trend for a number of local training exercises and education efforts, aimed at achieving this goal of preparing residents for the inevitable.
Last Saturday, the Teller County Office of Emergency Management (OEM), in partnership with the Teller County Sheriff’s Office, held its first big event aimed at being ready for a disaster, entitled “Emergency Preparedness Day.”
The event, kicked off at 9 a.m. and representatives of a number of local organizations met with residents one-on-one to inform them of the various services available in the event of a wildfire or other major disaster. The majority of the first responder organizations in the area were present so that they could personally meet the residents they serve.
Other local organizations that offer specific services, but aren’t as well known as area fire departments, also set up tables to inform residents about the types of services they offer. The day featured many demonstrations and classes, centered on improving emergency preparedness.
“We have invited all of our first responder agencies and a lot of other entities in the county to come out and demonstrate and teach and educate our public about emergency preparedness,” said Teller County OEM Director Jay Teague. “The theme this year was self-responsibility or self-preparedness. It focused on what you yourself can do as a citizen in Teller County to be ready for an emergency.”
Representatives for nearly every fire department in the area attended the Preparedness Day, as well as the Ute Pass Regional Ambulance District. Flight for Life gave a helicopter landing demonstration and the local 911 Authority was there discussing their Peak Alerts emergency notification system.
Many Emergency Services Showcased
During the July 15 event, there were a number of classes and training sessions available, such as 15-minute CPR and Stop the Bleed classes. First Responders from the Northeast Teller County Fire Department also gave a demonstration on how to properly use a fire extinguisher.
Organizers of the event cited another goal of helping residents sign up for the Peak Alerts System. A number of organizations offered resources for emergencies.
The event had food vendors and events for the kids like a smoke trailer and a junior firefighter challenge. There were also training sessions geared for the youth in the area, such as “prepare with Pedro” and “Pillowcase Project” classes.
Various organizations that serve the entire Pikes Peak region also made an appearance, such as the Peterson Space Force Base Fire Department and the local American Red Cross volunteers. Many organizations, which some residents didn’t know existed, had tables set up to better inform residents about their role as a source of help.
The Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), under the OEM, had a table set up to inform residents on the organization’s purpose. The volunteer-based group helps with emergency response planning, local networking/outreach, citizen training opportunities, and resources for personal preparedness.
The LEPC offered various informative handouts wildfire evacuation checklist. They also informed residents on what is and isn’t allowed during the various stages of fire bans, and the sometimes complex orange flag and red flag restrictions.
The American Red Cross was provided a wildfire safety checklist. They were also recruiting for volunteers as they said any time a shelter has been set up, which they have already done twice this year, they need volunteers to help. Those interested in helping out can visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.
The University of Colorado Center for Inclusive Design and Engineering (CIDE) also educated citizens on resources they offer. The CIDE currently has a program where they can give back up power supplies for people who are on life saving devices that require electricity to use in an event where the power goes out.
The Coalition of the Upper South Platte (CUSP), based in Lake George, also educated visitors about mitigating their properties for wildfire protection. Representatives from CUSP had maps that outline the various mitigation procedures and what has occurred in the region.
The group called the NoFloCo Fire Mitigation Posse based in northern Florissant, also had volunteers at the event talking about fire mitigation. They had a model of a home and property, with half of it mitigated, and the other half not mitigated, to visually demonstrate proper procedures to follow.
The overall theme of the day was that everyone needs to inform themselves and make sure they are ready for various types of potential emergency disasters.