Van Beek: A night to celebrate local heroes |

Van Beek: A night to celebrate local heroes

Eagle County is considered to be one of the safest communities in all of Colorado. The fact that we rarely have to think about our safety in walking to our car, leaving our home, sending our children to school, taking a hike, or any of our daily activities we do, that make mountain living such a wonderful experience, happens because of the training, preparation, and courage of those who place their own lives on the line to make sure that we don’t have to worry about ours. 

Once a year, we are privileged to honor a few of the many who sacrifice and go above and beyond the call of duty and share with you a peek into their brave world.

Some are members of law enforcement who live in the hectic world of peaceful encounters with our amazing community members contrasted with the sheer terror of that call which is so intense that it could end their lives or that of others. A simple traffic stop, domestic violence call, or unusual behavior event can quickly escalate to life-threatening levels. 

We see the firefighters who, against all logic, run into a burning building or a wildfire knowing that it may be their last, yet, come out for a brief break, often carrying people or even animals to safety, in their exhausted arms, before running back in, and doing it over and over again, sometimes for 15 hours straight because the fire’s spread makes every moment critical, and can make the difference between life and death for nearby residents. 

Our paramedics see the tragedies that we all fear most … the horrific accidents, drug overdoses, medical emergencies. Often they are the ones who bring back to life those who are on the edge of death as they are transported to the nearest hospital. Their judgment and training can make the difference between a transport going to the hospital or the morgue. 

Local doctors are kept busy with the fact that our adventurous imagination often exceeds our physical abilities. Living in the land of pushing limits, doctors are busy with year-round emergencies, particularly during ski season. Because of their amazing skills and our state-of-the-art facilities, Vail has become one of the premier locations for those with serious injuries and in need of emergency medical intervention. These doctors not only save lives but also allow us to pursue a lifestyle that many only dream about. 

We must also acknowledge the unbelievable efforts of our volunteers at Vail Mountain Rescue.

When someone is lost or in life-threatening situations and far from help, VMR steps up, and at great personal peril, those rescuers are the literal life link to survival. Living and exploring life in an area that primarily encompasses wilderness, it is easy to get caught in an unpredictable and dangerous situation. With limited phone reception and intense foliage that can hide potential danger and inhibit rescue, it is the brave men and women of VMR who will be there for you. 

We are also fortunate to have Starting Hearts, an incredible organization, whose sole purpose is to save lives that might be lost through a sudden cardiac arrest event. As we continue to push the boundaries of logic in our quest for adventure, we can place unanticipated stress on our hearts, and with little notice, drop to the ground. 

With brain damage occurring within only four minutes and a survival rate of only 10%, the potential of it becoming a fatal event, versus a survivable life experience, is in having a defibrillator nearby. Starting Hearts has saved countless lives by making sure that defibrillators are nearby and that we are surrounded by a community that knows how to use them. Many are alive today because of Starting Hearts.

Also involved, are the local Rotary Clubs, who are lifesavers of a different sort. They work on projects and charity events that improve the lives of thousands of our residents. Rotary is a global network of neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers, who see challenges and take actions to correct them. Their dedication is seen everywhere, from our schools to small businesses to an entire myriad of needs that encompass all aspects of life. They work closely with our county’s first responders in developing a sense of security and unity for all.

Supporting those who support us is the primary mission of the Eagle County Emergency Responder’s Fund.  At times of greatest strife, ECERF steps up and provides critical funding to our first responder families during hardships or crisis. They also provide scholarships to students wishing to enter a career in emergency response. ECERF assists emergency responders and family members of all Eagle County law enforcement agencies, fire agencies, ambulance service agencies, Vail Mountain Rescue, Vail Public Safety Communications, and Vail Ski Patrol. They provide a venue for the community to show its deep appreciation to those who sacrifice so much to keep us safe. 

Please join everyone at the premier event of the season: A Night of Heroes.  The celebration is on Sunday, Nov. 1, from 5-6:30 pm. It will be our first virtual event and we are thrilled that so many will join us who might not normally be able to attend.

It will be a fun event with music, raffles, auctions, and incredible stories.  Meet some of our local first responders and show them how very much you care.  You may participate by contacting one of the sponsoring organizations or simply going online to or you can send a donation to Starting Hearts at  PO Box 2981, Avon, CO, 81620, or simply give us a call at (970) 763-5306, we’d love to chat with you.

Thank you for being such an amazing community, it is an incredible honor to serve you. 

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