Emergency response agencies from the area will be taking part in a wildfire readiness exercise in Vail from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5. Coordinated by Vail Fire and Emergency Services, the exercise will simulate a wildfire that could threaten nearby homes. Travelers should expect to see numerous first responder vehicles in and around Vail as part of the exercise, which will test real-time emergency response and coordination between fire agencies, law enforcement and various support agencies. Variable message signs will be in place to notify residents that an exercise is taking place.
The “Hot Potato” training will be staged from the Potato Patch neighborhood above Red Sandstone Road on the north side of Interstate 70. The training perimeter is about 14 acres and includes approximately 55 homes and two townhome complexes. During the training, responders will focus on public notification and evacuation, structure protection and containment of the mock wildfire. In addition, Vail Valley Medical Center will be concurrently exercising its emergency operations plan.
Volunteers have been enlisted from the neighborhood to take part in the evacuation scenario and will be alerted by uniformed law enforcement officers during a door-to-door canvass of the area. Properties will also be notified via the Everbridge emergency notification system activated by the Vail Public Safety Communications Center and to subscribers of Eagle County Alert at ecalert.org. Other community wide notifications will be tested during the exercise, including the @VailPolice Twitter and Facebook account, vailgov.com website, cable Channel 10 and Vail’s emergency hotline at 970-479-2226. In addition, responders from the Eagle County Public Information Officers group will be testing messages to the Eagle County PIO Facebook page and @EagleCountyPIO Twitter.
A simulated evacuation center will be established at the Grand View in the Lionshead Welcome Center to test coordination of the check-in process. Members of the community are invited to stop by the Grand View any time between 10 a.m. and noon to learn more about wildfire readiness and the town’s evacuation plan. Participants will be treated to a free lunch provided by the Salvation Army.
Responding agencies taking part in the Hot Potato training include: Vail Fire and Emergency Services, Vail Police Department, Vail Public Safety Communications Center, Eagle County Office of Emergency Management, Eagle County Paramedic Services, Vail Valley Medical Center, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, Vail Resorts, U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, Eagle River Fire Protection District, Greater Eagle Fire Protection District, Gypsum Fire Protection District and Copper Mountain Fire Department.
To coincide with the training, community members are asked to familiarize themselves with Vail’s evacuation plan at vailgov.com/evac and to visit readycolorado.com for preparedness information. In addition, residents are encouraged to sign up to receive emergency alerts, notifications and updates at ecalert.org.
For details on the Hot Potato training, contact Paul Cada, wildland program administrator for Vail Fire and Emergency Services, at 970-477-3475 or email email@example.com.