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Safety Council ready to reform

Jeremy Heiman

Like the Phoenix of myth, the Public Safety Council is preparing to rise from the ashes.

The Pitkin County Public Safety Council, an advisory group composed of representatives of local police, fire and emergency organizations, is being reformed to work out county guidelines and policies for emergency services.

The council, first formed in 1978, disbanded in 1995 after no one showed up for meetings.

Aspen Fire Chief Daryl Grob, briefing the Board of County Commissioners Tuesday on plans for rebirth of the council, said the first meeting of the council, a work session on Feb. 17, will be led by Larry Ritcey. Ritcey teaches at the National Fire Academy and is a consultant on leadership and organizational development in emergency services.

Grob said the objectives of resurrecting the council include creating consistent countywide operational guidelines, anticipating projects like rail transit that will effect emergency service providers, and anticipating legislation that will have an impact on emergency services.

Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis noted that bringing the council back together “dovetails” with Y2K planning and contingency planning that is being done among Summit, Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin County sheriff’s departments. Y2K refers to the year 2000 computer problem, or “millennium bug” – widespread problems that may occur when computer clocks turn from 1999 to 2000.

“If we have singular incidences of weirdness, mutual aid will happen,’ Braudis said. “But if weirdness becomes widespread, we’re all on our own.”

The original Public Safety Council was made up of representatives from police and fire departments from area towns, rescue groups and ambulance services in the county. In all, 14 groups were involved.

Grob said all the original groups have been invited, and three new groups – the County Emergency Services Council, the Area Trauma Advisory Council and the Roaring Fork Mine Rescue Team – may participate as well.

“We look to have a fairly complete response [to the invitations],” Grob said. Each organization may be represented by one or two people.

Grob said he has high hopes for cooperation among the groups, even though numerous conflicts between representatives and member organizations brought about what Braudis called the council’s “unnatural death” in 1995.

“We need to remember the past so we don’t make the same mistakes,” Grob said.


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