I would like to take this opportunity to inform the citizens of Rio Blanco County of some behind-the-scenes work that your commissioners and your County Emergency Manager Ty Gates have been involved in the past year and half.
First, the statute for emergency management lies within the commissioner prevue. In January 2015, they hired Ty Gates to manage the program.
The commissioners, upon my suggestion, allowed Gates to attend the state’s Emergency Management Academy. This is a training academy filled with classes and practical work to enable emergency managers to develop emergency plans for the “Whole Community.” This takes an enormous amount of commitment of time over six months.
Gates returned to the county ready to go to work. He has completely updated the Emergency Operations Plan in preparation for the county commissioners’ approval and signature. He has developed a part of that plan to bring the appropriate folks from across the various disciplines and governmental agencies to come together in an Incident Command Post (ICP) and or an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) when needed to manage the various incidents and share information to allow the proper timely decision to be made.
Gates has also taken on updating the Pre-disaster Hazard Mitigation Plan (PDM). This involves a large group of folks across the county analyzing hazards that might be able to be mitigated prior to a disaster occurring, therefore protecting citizens and infrastructure and saving tax dollars.
Gates has taken the lead in using a county-wide identification badge and credentialing system that was purchased using a regional Homeland Security Grant to put an ID on all individuals who respond to incidents within your county. This is for the safety of the responders.
Gates came to the top assisting the sheriff and first responders with an aircraft accident using all of the various systems he had learned in the academy and other classes. He has assisted with the development of the Annual Operating Plan for Wildfire as well as pulling a very large group of responders to an exercise this spring in working through various issues that rise.
He is now a part of a planning group to bring an Incident Management Team to your county next spring in the management of a very large incident as an exercise.
And just this last week Gates attended the state Wildfire Academy in Gunnison and was successful in his first step in becoming a Plan Section Chief on the North West Incident Management Team.
I want to thank the current Rio Blanco Board of County Commissioners and Sheriff Anthony Mazzola for all of their involvement, leadership and support of Gates and the program he is developing. I can’t over emphasize enough how this will make a difference in Rio Blanco County when the need arises.
Regional Field Manager
Colorado Department of Safety and Office of Emergency Management