Garfield County gets hazmat team
Garfield County is now better prepared to deal with threats to public safety than ever before, thanks to the new All Hazards Response Team of Garfield County, law enforcement and fire officials said Thursday. The team consists of about 22 fire, emergency medical services and law enforcement professionals, Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said. Each has training in law enforcement tactical response and basic hazardous materials handling, and at least two members are highly trained hazmat technicians.Team members come from five different agencies: the Garfield County sheriff’s office, the Glenwood Springs Fire Department, and the New Castle, Rifle, and Glenwood Springs police departments. None of the agencies alone has the ability to respond to all types of emergencies, which often require multiple agencies, Vallario said. For example, closing a methamphetamine lab often requires not only tactical law enforcement training, but also hazardous-materials training. The AHRT is capable of handling or assisting with everything from hostage negotiations, to hazardous materials spills, to dignitary security, according to a press release from the team. AHRT will only respond to an emergency when a local agency requests it, and it won’t be limited to requests from agencies in Garfield County. One reason for AHRT’s obligation to other parts of Colorado is that it receives funding from Colorado’s Northwest Region of the Department of Homeland Security. Homeland Security funded the majority cost of starting AHRT, including training and a $100,000 truck the team will use, Vallario said. Local agencies incurred some overtime pay costs for team members to train.The 22-member organization will be broken into two teams so that AHRT can provide 24-hour coverage in emergency situations, Vallario said. “I’m comfortable that we’re a lot more able to respond to something hazardous than we were a year ago or two years ago,” Vallario said. Contact Ryan Graff: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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