Vail Daily letter: ‘Yes’ to Eagle River, Gypsum |

Vail Daily letter: ‘Yes’ to Eagle River, Gypsum

When someone has an emergency and calls 911 they need help immediately. Callers expect the phone will be answered and help is on its way. But what happens when the expected help doesn’t come or is delayed? Emergency responders and planners position fire stations to best serve the community. But as a community grows, the volume and complexity of calls rises; and sometimes that happens disproportionally. It is important for those in charge of that planning to anticipate the growth and stay ahead of those needs.

Upvalley, the Eagle River Fire Protection District is attempting to be ready for that growth. In Avon alone, there are 2,500 single-family homes and over 800,000 square feet of commercial space already in the works. It is extremely important that the emergency personnel are in a position to be able to respond to the increased demand. The current Avon station is surrounded by hotels, bus stops, child care centers, and events in the park that can completely shut down the road used by responding emergency apparatus.

In Edwards, the Eagle River Fire Protection District is experiencing rapid growth in the surrounding area. Call volume is rapidly approaching that of Avon. The current station was built before Riverwalk, Edwards Corner, or Edwards Village Shops were built. With the future development of the West End project, the old B&B parcel, and the anticipated redevelopment of what is now the Eagle River Village Trailer Park, the call volume is expected to multiply exponentially and surpass the Avon call load. In fact, the Edwards station is designed to be the new main station for the Eagle River Fire Protection District.

In Gypsum, the needs are even greater. They have not had a mill levy increase in 33 years! They are literally fixing trucks with baling wire and duct tape just to keep them in service so they can respond to calls. The department is running so far in the red that it might not be able to continue to respond to calls. The National Fire Protection Association recommends a minimum crew of four on an engine. Last week the department had one volunteer on duty to respond.

Remember, firefighters do more than just fight fire. They respond to car wrecks, medical calls, whitewater rescue, ice rescue, stuck elevators, hazardous material spills, and among other things, yes even the proverbial cat in a tree! No matter what the reason, firefighters are always there to help. Now it’s time to help them. Show them you are thankful for the job they do. Vote “yes” on the current ballot issues. Because it might be you dialing 911 next.

With over 30 years of experience as an emergency responder, I encourage everyone to get out and make the vote count Tuesday.

Mikel “Pappy” Kerst

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