County buys storage trailer

Equipment bought with Homeland Security funds will be stored

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The Routt County Board of Commissioners agreed to buy a trailer for new equipment purchased with Homeland Security dollars.

The $4,600 trailer will hold personal protection equipment and decontamination equipment, Emergency Services Dir--ector Chuck Vale said.

About $180,000 in federal Homeland Security dollars has been spent on the equipment. Additional funds have been received to help hospitals, public works departments and others prepare. The funds were a direct response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"We're way better prepared than we were before Sept. 11," Vale said.

The county will be even more prepared after emergency responders are trained fully about how to use the new equipment, he said.

The 8-foot-by-16-foot trailer was necessary for two reasons, Vale said. First, the equipment should be mobile so it can be taken wherever it's needed. Sec--ond, planned renovations to Vale's offices mean a new storage place for the equipment is needed.

The personal protection equipment protects emergency responders from all types of hazards and includes suits, goggles and gloves.

The decontamination equipment will be set up so responders and victims with deadly contaminants on their clothes and skin can be cleaned safely.

The county also has purchased sensitive detection equipment that can detect whether something is wrong in an area, such as if there isn't enough oxygen to breathe or if there is an explosive substance.

The equipment plays an important role as counties begin to consider the real possibility of larger hazards, such as biological attacks.

"The whole idea of weapons of mass destruction and hazardous materials is relatively new to the emergency response community, especially in a rural area," Vale said.

In May, some emergency leaders in local counties will be trained about how to use the new equipment. Training will continue throughout the year.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail scunningham@steamboatpilot.com

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