Aspen and Pitkin County unite for ‘Aspen Aware & Pitkin Prepared’ Emergency Readiness event
It was standing room only Tuesday evening as Aspen residents packed into the Pearl Pass conference room of City Hall for a conversation around emergency preparedness.
In recognition of National Preparedness Month, the city and county collaborated for the “Aspen Aware & Pitkin Prepared” event to help educate the public on evacuation scenarios and how to take personal responsibility in case of an emergency.
Aspen Police Assistant Chief of Operations Bill Linn opened with introductions before introducing the main speakers for the evening’s event.
Aspen Police Sergeant Rob Fabrocini covered personal emergency kits, or Go-Bags, and advised that a three-day supply for evacuation is preferable for your car and a two week supply is best for your house. He said important things to include in your bags, a gallon of water a day per person along with non-perishable foods, local maps, first-aid kits, flashlights and batteries.
“One of the things a lot of people don’t rely on anymore because they have their cell phones is a radio,” he said. “You can still get online, you can still get those hand crank and they’re pretty cheap. If the phone services go down, they still work.”
Chief Deputy of Operations Parker Lathrop with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office addressed communication resources provided to the community within emergency and non-emergency situations. Lathrop said there were two key points within his overall message, the first of which was to have a plan and know. The second key point was to be self-reliant. Lathrop also stressed the importance of signing up for the county’s Pitkin Alerts as the best method of staying up to date on all important information throughout the valley.
For copper line phones, Lathrop said the county also offers reverse 911, and additionally offers IPAWS, which works similarly to Amber Alerts in the sense that it’s sent out to people’s individual phones.
“Our dispatch center can select cell towers and broadcast that message out. So, if your cell phone is attached to a tower, in that certain area, you’ll get that message. We will get every main tower in the valley, we have access to do that.”
Lastly, Lathrop stressed the importance of “being your own communicator” and being prepared to take action on your own in the event that technology fails in the event of an emergency and your instincts are telling you to evacuate.
Community Resource Supervisor Ginna Gordon and Aspen Police Assistant Chief of Administration Linda Consuegra then spoke to the crowd about building out a personal or family communication plan.
The main points each covered were sheltering in place for incidents such as major storms, seeking out an area of refuge in case of something such as a flood and evacuation for larger scale incidents such as a fire.
While sheets were handed out, Gordon said forms could be found online at the city’s website for filling out personal communication, such as family member’s exact phone numbers; having an idea of family member’s school or workplace evacuation plans; and lastly, having an out of town contact.
“We want you all to build out your personal resilience and your resilience for your family and do it before we have an incident because during an incident it can be very chaotic; people can be split up, and it’s really challenging to build out these plans at the point of an emergency,” she said.
The event closed with questions from the public, with one resident who resides on the east side of town who brought up concerns of Aspen’s “beetle kill” being worse than in previous years and expressed concerns over the question of “What is the bigger plan,” suggesting that, “Our plan is a city without a master plan.”
While every speaker took turns at addressing the resident’s question, Pitkin County Sheriff Michael Buglione closed out the questions by assuring the crowd of Aspen’s residents that their efforts in being pro-active is the first step in securing the community’s safety as a whole.
“You’re concerned about the bigger picture, and the bigger picture is early detection, being prepared, but we’re also doing prescribed burns to get rid of the beetle kill concerns,” he said. “You’re all here; you’re all engaged. If you take one or two things that you learned tonight and tell a friend or neighbor, that will double the capacity of what you all have learned here tonight.”
To reach Jonson Kuhn, email him at email@example.com.
The Aspen Community Development Department is updating the land use code to include new outdoor lighting regulations and will be addressing Aspen City Council for second reading during a regular meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday in Council Chambers.