Bridge Answer Man column: Coordinating emergency services during bridge work |

Bridge Answer Man column: Coordinating emergency services during bridge work

Tom Newland

Grand Avenue bridge project communications leaders Kathleen Wanatowicz and Tom Newland meet with emergency responders.
Provided |

Throughout the Grand Avenue bridge project, our team has coordinated with various stakeholder groups that face challenges during construction. Of all the stakeholders our team meets with, emergency medical services is one of the most important because they are in the business of keeping us safe.

This group encompasses EMS professionals from Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield counties and folks all the way down to Parachute and Grand Junction. Giving EMS quick, safe access through the various detours is a top priority for our plans and traffic control operations.

Our team meets with EMS once a quarter, and sometimes more if there will be a significant amount of coinciding traffic impacts.

During this month’s Interstate 70 night detours, EMS will have direct radio communication with our team. If vehicles from Parachute or Eagle need to access I-70 during these nights, our crews will be in touch with dispatch to ensure they can get through the closure area.

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In addition, our team communicates weekly with local law enforcement and the fire department to ensure their needs are met during our weekly lane closures. This coordination could quite literally be a life-or-death situation, so we do our best to ensure that EMS is abreast of all our plans.

During the August detour, our team will be in contact with EMS daily. In our detour campaign, we will be encouraging motorists to move to the far side of the shoulder when they see EMS on the detour route. This is a two-lane detour, and EMS priority is extremely important.

Our public information team took a trip to Rifle to understand how 911 dispatch works for the detour. We met with the people who field the calls and understood how the calls get relayed to the appropriate EMS personnel. The information from this meeting will be incorporated into our emergency planning for the detour in August.

A great side benefit of our coordination with EMS is the assistance we receive from local police and fire to ensure detours operate smoothly. Police Chief Terry Wilson and Fire Chief Gary Tillotson give us a hand with directing traffic, closing the bridge and otherwise making sure our public is safe. Our coordination with EMS is really a mutual effort — one that will be critical to the operation of the detour this fall.

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