The Federal Emergency Management Agency has selected Garfield County to host an emergency management field course next year, designed to train area public officials how best to manage major incidents.
FEMA representatives will work in conjunction with the county’s emergency management staff and county administration to conduct an Emergency Operations Center/Incident Management Team Interface field delivery course June 15-18, 2015.
“This is a very important training for our community,” Garfield County Manager Andrew Gorgey said in a news release, explaining that county staff and other officials typically must travel to FEMA’s training center in Maryland for such an experience.
“With this course, FEMA will come here to conduct exercises based on our most likely critical incidents, with our geography, our people, our resources and our own most likely incident scenarios,” Gorgey said. “It’s going to make an already prepared and tight-knit community that much better prepared.”
The training can be used to manage any type of emergency operation, such as wildland fires, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, transportation accidents, rail incidents, landslides or mudslides.
“We want to make sure that everyone can respond and do what they need to without jurisdictional issues other than necessary budget management,” said John Martin, chairman of the Garfield County Board of Commissioners.
“We also want folks to know after the smoke clears, the real work is ongoing,” Martin said, noting that recovery efforts can take years to implement.
The four-day course includes both classroom instruction and simulation exercises. It’s also a good way to review existing emergency plans, policies and procedures, and improve them with new information, said Chris Bornholdt, Garfield County’s emergency manager.
“We can always learn, practice and prepare to be better professionally,” Bornholdt said, noting that the Glenwood Springs community just honored the memory of the 14 federal wildland firefighters who lost their lives battling a wildfire on Storm King Mountain on July 6, 1994.
“We have done a very good job integrating with our emergency responders in cooperation with local, state and federal agencies,” Bornholdt said. “This course will make all of us stronger and better prepared when the next incident occurs.”