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Vail Daily column: Vote ‘yes’ to improve emergency response

Karl Bauer
Valley Voices

People have certain expectations of what will happen when they call 911. Essentially, they expect that a fire engine or police car will quickly show up (often both) and that firefighters and police officers will climb out and a variety of actions will occur to make the emergency go away.

Several years ago, Chief Ticer and I met over coffee to discuss the aforementioned expectations and how the Avon Police Department and the Eagle River Fire Protection District could continue to meet the needs of the public well into the future.

As Chief Ticer and I discussed then (and continue to talk about even now), several impediments stand in the way of the Fire District’s and Police Department’s efforts to ensure the timely arrival at emergencies of police officers and firefighters.

Located adjacent to Nottingham Park, a natural hub for year-round public events, the district’s Avon fire station and the Avon police station often become blocked with crowds. Add to this, skiers from the bus turn-around wobbling across the street while wearing ski boots with skis and poles in hand, dodging the buses, vans and limousines turning the circle in front of the new Wyndham Hotel, as well as the understandable desire to further develop “downtown” Avon, and we easily see the challenges that firefighters and police officers face when attempting to fulfill the public’s reasonable expectation that they quickly arrive at the scene of every emergency. The new joint public safety facility in Avon, if approved by voters, would remove this impediment.

Originally built in the mid-1980s as a water treatment facility, the current Avon fire station cannot house the Fire District’s ladder truck. A critical component of Eagle River Fire Protection District’s system of response to structure fires and other emergency, the ladder truck must respond from a location central to where it is most often needed, which the new joint Public Safety Facility in Avon would provide.

Because multiple fire engines respond to fires, traffic accidents, rescues and other emergencies, the system of emergency response includes the Edwards Fire Station. Also built in the mid-1980s, but as a temporary fire station, the current Edwards Fire Station cannot house the vehicles and equipment currently required for effective emergency response, let alone accommodate future needs. Put simply, the Fire District must replace it with an appropriately sized and equipped fire station in the same location.

Firefighters must regularly practice skills the public calls upon them to use when suppressing fires, extricating people trapped in mangled cars, performing rescues and the other things expected of them during emergencies. Firefighters must also practice these skills in a suitable location that still allows them to respond quickly. Eagle River Fire Protection District currently has no place for its firefighters to properly train that maintains their ability to arrive quickly at fires and other emergencies.

Several years ago, when the chief and I met over coffee, we talked extensively about the emergency response system upon which the community depends and how, with public support, the Eagle River Fire Protection District and the Avon Police Department could appropriately fulfill the public’s expectations when calling 911. The partnership between Eagle River Fire Protection District and Avon Police Department remains a rock-solid cornerstone of effective public safety; the new public safety facility in Avon which both would share, along with the new Edwards fire station and a training facility from which firefighters can quickly respond, constitute vital building blocks of the rest of this system.

I respectfully urge you to vote “yes” on Ballot Question A for the Eagle River Fire Protection District and support the Avon Police Department’s relocation to the new joint public safety facility.

Karl Bauer is fire chief of the Eagle River Fire Protection District.


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