The purpose of the Vail Emergency Evacuation Plan is to educate the citizens and guests of Vail on how to respond during an emergency requiring evacuation.
It also serves as a guide for the Town of Vail emergency responders. The Emergency Evacuation Plan includes plans for both a partial and a full evacuation of the town.
Vail Police maintains an evacuation registry for those who need assistance in evacuating or who have medical equipment affected during a power outage. Call 970-479-2201 to register.
Information in this plan will be presented at the community picnic held each summer. The Community Information Office will also provide the information through local media and post the plan to the Town of Vail website (Vailgov.com).
The plan includes emergency broadcast information, a hotline phone number to obtain recorded information, neighborhood pick-up locations, evacuation center locations, shelter locations and an instructions for citizens with functional and access needs. Key to the plan is the community’s regular review of how to obtain information and their understanding of critical steps to the evacuation process in the face of a real emergency.
When implementing the EEP, the Vail Communications Center will utilize the emergency phone notification, also known as Reverse 911, the Emergency Alert System via AM/FM radio stations and Roam Secure (EC Alert) text messages to homes, hotels and businesses in affected areas. Messages will contain real event information and emergency evacuation instructions. When time and personnel allow, first responders will drive through neighborhoods and make public notifications on emergency vehicle loud speakers or go door-to-door.
Recorded Information: The road conditions phone number (970-479-2226) will become the evacuation hotline which the public can access for updated information provided by the Town Public Information Officer (PIO), or a designee of the Incident Commander. Use of the hotline will help reduce overwhelming call volumes to the dispatch center. Whenever possible, the updated information will also be posted on the Town of Vail website (Vailgov.com) and on the Eagle County website (Eaglecounty.us).
During certain incidents, such as a hazardous materials spill, or communicable disease outbreak, the public may be asked remain indoors and not evacuate. Or due to the rapid spread of a wildfire, they may not be able to leave. In these cases, citizens should be prepared to stay in their homes for a minimum of 72 hours and have enough supplies on hand to support the number of residents living there. See www.ready.gov for more details. Homes should be made Firewise to increase the safety of sheltering in place during a fast moving wildfire. See www.firewise.org for more details.
In the event of a wildfire where residents are unable to evacuate, they should go to a preplanned safe zone such as a large field that is clear of brush and far away from trees.
Citizens who self-evacuate or evacuate by public transportation will be asked to indicate they have already vacated their residence by displaying a large, white object (such as a sheet or a piece of paper) inside their home. The object should be visible and conspicuous and in the front (street-side) of their home. They are also asked to turn on their porch light.
The current neighborhood pick-up locations are the Town of Vail bus stops. When possible, buses will follow their regular routes. If a resident, merchant or guest is unable to make it to their neighborhood bus stop, they should go to the next nearest bus stop or alternative pick-up location for a safe evacuation, see below:
Alternative Pick-up Locations:
Check-in operations will be conducted by the Red Cross or Salvation Army. Required check-in information will consist of the evacuee’s name, birth date, home address, cell phone numbers, the location of the temporary shelter in which the person will be placed, and when applicable, the date and time a person was released to take care of their own shelter needs. Evacuees will be assigned to shelters based upon the area of their residence. Following check-in, buses will transport evacuees from the check-in location to their assigned temporary shelter. To assist individuals needing to locate family members, a phone system will be set up.
These are citizens and guests that will require assistance leaving their residence or, in the case of a power outage, those who have medical needs requiring electricity. This special needs population takes into account those who do not have transportation and are unable to get to the designated evacuation center or neighborhood pick-up bus stop location. The citizen provided information should be relayed to the Vail Police Department and Eagle County Paramedic Service even prior to an emergency in order to identify the number special needs persons requiring assistance, their locations and how best to transport them appropriately during an evacuation.
People who are on Vail Mountain when an emergency situation takes place should remain on the mountain, as long as it is safe. Vail Resort Security is responsible for organizing shelter on the mountain, rerouting people across the mountain and conveying guests into town.
In the event the eastern portion of East Vail is blocked during a wildfire incident and residents are unable to exit, an alternative route from the far eastern end of Bighorn Road is to be used. At the spot where the gate marks the end of the road and where the Vail Pass bike path begins, evacuees should turn to the right onto the dirt road, which leads on to the lower I-70 runaway truck ramp and then onto I-70. Generally, any traffic would then be directed east bound on I-70, as it is a high likelihood the west bound I-70 would be closed at Copper Mountain. If I-70 was not closed west bound, then traffic would be routed west. See below maps for details.
Due to the massive coordination required to evacuate the hospital, all efforts will be made to defend and protect it from whatever the nature of incident. If the hospital is evacuated, the VVMC plan will be put into action.
Evacuations will be organized through the Incident Command System.
The wildland fires and evacuations in Colorado have given us a powerful teaching moment. We now have an opportunity to pause and reflect on our knowledge of the Town of Vail’s Evacuation Plan and your personal family preparedness plan.
If a fire bore down on our community would you be ready to answer these questions? Now is a good time to find the answers, not in a time of crisis.
Vail Police Chief
Vail Public Safety Communications Center Director