County now better prepared for emergencies |

County now better prepared for emergencies

Derek Franz
Eagle County Emergency Manager Barry Smith celebrates the opening of the new "warm" emergency operations center with colleagues and county leaders Oct. 29. The new EOC is ready at the flip of a switch. Before, crews had to set up equipment whenever a command post was needed to handle emergencies.
Derek Franz / |

In the past, when something went wrong in Eagle County, such as a fire or accident, emergency management crews had to dig equipment out of boxes and set it all up in order to communicate with people in the field and coordinate regional efforts.

Not anymore.

Eagle County now has a “warm” emergency operations center that is ready at the flip of a switch in the basement of the Eagle County Building.

“The common functions of an EOC are to collect, gather and analyze data; make decisions that protect life and property; maintain continuity of the organization within the scope of applicable laws; and disseminate those decisions to all concerned agencies and individuals,” said Eagle County Emergency Manager Barry Smith. “In other words, the EOC is taking care of the ‘big picture’ items during an emergency to support our responders in the field.”

County commissioners joined Smith and Project Manager Ron Siebert in celebrating the new facility Oct. 29.

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“This summer’s fires and floods on the Front Range highlighted the need to be able to work together and communicate during these emergencies,” said Commissioner Jill Ryan.

The $200,000 project was in the works long before that, however. The county agreed to match a $100,000 federal grant last year, and Smith and Siebert put in a lot of research that included a detailed tour of the state EOC in Denver.

“We had to do a lot of belt-tightening to get here and we still have a long way to go,” Smith said.

“We couldn’t make it look like the ones we toured but we made the most out of the money we had,” said Siebert. “This gives (Smith) a good foundation to build on. The very, very basics are here now.”

The new EOC will also serve as an expanded computer training room.

“This is a great thing for Eagle County,” said Chuck Vale, regional field manager for the Colorado Department of Public Safety.

Future phases for the EOC will include additional equipment to provide for better real-time data collection and dissemination, as well as other enhancements.

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