County lands FEMA emergency field course

July 21, 2014

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has selected Garfield County to host an important emergency management course in 2015.

FEMA representatives will work in conjunction with the county’s emergency management staff and county administration to conduct an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) / Incident Management Team (IMT) Interface field delivery course June 15-18, 2015.

“This is a very important training for our community,” said Garfield County Manager Andrew Gorgey. “FEMA operates similar courses at its National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Previously, county staff had to travel there for this training, and the scenarios there are generic. 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. It’s going to make an already prepared and tight-knit community that much better prepared.”

The 20th Anniversary Commemoration July 6 of the South Canyon Fire is a reminder of the need for such preparedness according to Drew. “Our community knows all too well how real the threat of major fires is, and I am very proud to bring this course to Garfield County.”

The application of the training could be used in any 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 Garfield County Board of Commissioners Chair John Martin. “We also want folks to know after the smoke clears, the real work is ongoing. It is important we have recovery within this training, and that is why we need finance people, budget planners and elected officials to really understand what is coming after a natural disaster or an incident.” Recovery efforts may take a couple of years or longer to implement.

In the course, following two days of classroom instruction, participants are engaged in a structured exercise, the simulation of an emergency such as a fire or flood in Garfield County, where each plays a role in the emergency operations center or on the incident management team. The course helps validate actual existing plans, policies, and procedures, improving them with information learned through the course.

“We can always learn, practice, and prepare to be better professionally,” said Garfield County Emergency Manager Chris Bornholdt. “Our wildfire history locally is extensive. We just honored the memory of the Storm King 14, and other major incidents will take place in the years to come. We have done a very good job integrating with our emergency responders in cooperation with local, state and federal agencies. This course will make all of us stronger and better prepared when the next incident occurs.”

The course describes the roles, responsibilities and relationships of local emergency operations center personnel, who will at times work alongside national Type 1, 2, and 3 incident management teams assigned to address severe emergencies, such as wildland fires or floods. Crews are differentiated between Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3 crews based on experience, leadership and availability.

Last summer alone in Garfield County, Type 2 teams were assigned to the Brush Creek Fire. Statewide, in the past three years, there have been 15 incidents in which Type 2 teams were called in to assist, and six Type 1 incidents.

County staff will coordinate with FEMA and will utilize resources from the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to prepare for the course.

Emergency Management