Routt County Director of Emergency Management Bob Struble talks about the identification cards being made for emergency responders.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Routt County Director of Emergency Management Bob Struble talks about the identification cards being made for emergency responders.

New emergency responder badges to be standardized

IDs lead to new accountability measures

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— To help bestow order on the controlled chaos of emergency response, Routt County Director of Emergency Management Bob Struble will create standardized identification cards for all emergency responders in the coming weeks.

Struble said the new cards will be issued to all law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics and, in a change from previous identification, to nongovernment agencies whose workers may respond to emergencies. That includes the Yampa Valley Electric Association, Yampa Valley Regional Airport, the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association and others.

The ID cards will have a photo of the person, their level of clearance within the National Incident Management System, as well as two barcodes and a magnetic strip. The barcode on the front will have qualifications and basic information, while the barcode on the rear will include medical information and emergency contacts, he said.

Steamboat Springs Fire Marshal Jay Muhme said the ID cards firefighters now use have some of that information, but it is not encoded in barcodes.

"We currently carry identification badges, but the system that we use is somewhat outdated," he said. "Having accountability for your people on scene would be a benefit."

Muhme said the more complex the situation, the more accountability that would be necessary. When responders from other counties arrive to assist on a scene or if command on a site transitions to new responders, the ID badges could be used to keep track of who is working and when.

The system costs roughly $10,000, said Emergency Management assistant Cheryl Dalton, including a computer, a driver's license reader, a camera and a specialized ID printer. The card stores all information typically contained on a driver's license.

The cards also have the potential to be used for much more, Struble said. If doors were equipped with readers, the cards could be used as keys or as a way to get gas from a department pump.

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