County OKs basic plan update

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Routt County commissioners approved updates to emergency-management plans Tuesday.

First, the commissioners approved updates to the core county emergency plan, which was last updated in 1999. Commissioners also approved an update to the mass casualty operations plan and one resource-sharing agreement with the state. A second regional resource-sharing agreement was tabled for legal clarification.

The approval came after discussions Monday with Routt County Emergency Services Director Chuck Vale and other emergency services representatives.

During those discussions, Vale reminded the commissioners that the plan had come a long way. When he took over emergency management in 1990, he said he was handed boxes containing out-of-date lists of people and phone numbers.

From that, he said he has worked hard with many of the county's emergency officials to develop a plan that is understandable and complete.

The purpose of the Routt County Basic Disaster and Emergency Operations Plan is to provide guidelines for managing responses to major emergencies and disasters.

When Vale presented the plan to commissioners, he said it was a start, not a complete project. But, he said, the updated basic plan would stay pretty much the same, while the appendices would be more flexible so they could be updated.

"Don't accept this as being done. It's a work in action," Vale said, adding that he was proud of the efforts to date.

Vale also presented an update to the Routt County Mass Casualty Field Operations Plan, which gives directions for emergencies, such as a natural disaster or commercial plane crash, in which many people are hurt.

The regional resource-sharing agreement, which was tabled, states that the 10 counties that make up the Northwest Colorado region would work to share resources during emergencies. The agreement that was accepted said that Routt County and the state of Colorado would share resources.

Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said she supported the agreements as long as the other counties or the state couldn't order Routt County to supply resources.

Vale said the county would only provide assistance if it was not needed within the county.

Vale also outlined several changes in the plan for the commissioners.

For instance, the roles of the county manager -- a relatively new position -- were added into the plan, as were several county departments that were overlooked in the original plan.

Other new components included a section about how department heads would protect their employees during an emergency, one about how the government would function and organize itself in an emergency, and one about a new multi-agency coordinating group that would provide support to field workers during.

The commissioners said they supported Vale and his work to update the plan.

"I like this. I think it's really set up well as far as identifying everybody's duty and how they fit in," Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.

She also suggested that the county should work with smaller communities that may not have the resources to create their own plan and encourage them to accept the county's plan.

Commissioners made several changes and suggestions to the plan Monday before they approved it Tuesday.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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