SW Colorado Emergency Communications Exercise Today

By: Dan Bender, La Plata County Sheriff’s Office

The Southwest Regional Communications Committee in collaboration with regional Homeland Security emergency response agencies will be conducting a multi-jurisdictional exercise on Tuesday, February 18th, 2014.  The actual exercise will be from 9:00AM until 11:00AM. Physical set up for the La Plata County portion of the exercise will take place from about 8:00AM until 9:00AM at the Durango Fire Rescue station in Bodo Industrial Park at 142 Sheppard Drive in Durango.

The exercise is done periodically ( usually annually) to test radio and other forms of communication that would be used during a response to a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional emergency or  planned event.   This will be a test of the Southwest Region TACTICAL INTEROPERABLE COMMUNICATIONS (TIC) PLAN.  The Southwest Region, as it pertains to the Colorado Division of Emergency Management, consists of the counties of  San Juan, Montezuma, Archuleta, Delores, and La Plata as well as the Southern Ute and the Ute Mountain Ute tribes.

In La Plata County, mobile communications and command vehicles from Durango Fire Rescue; Durango Police Dept and La Plata County Sheriff’s Office will be set up next to the Durango Fire Rescue station in Bodo Industrial Park.  Once the exercise begins, dozens of area agencies representing Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS, Schools, Public Health, Animal Control, Offices of Emergency Management, Public Works, Transportation, and other support entities will test their ability to communicate with others within their organizations, and between the other agencies and groups using everything from ground phones and cell phones to internet and radios on a variety of frequencies on 800MHZ, VHF, and HAM systems.

The objective of the exercise is to improve the capability and efficiency of area public service communications in the event of an emergency and to have tested back-up systems in place in the event primary communications systems are out of service.  During last year’s exercise, over 6,000 responders communicated over the various systems in a 2 hour period, simulating high volume use during an emergency.

Montezuma County Offers Free TDAP Vaccine

Durango, CO: The Montezuma County Public Health Department is offering free Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (TDAP) vaccination shot on November 6th from 2-4pm at the Montezuma County Annex, 103 Chestnut Street in Cortez.  Supplies are limited to the first 180 walk-ins, no appointment is necessary.

The TDAP vaccine is required for all children going into 6th grade. A tetanus shot is suggested for all adults every 10 years. A pertussis shot is suggested for pregnant women and anyone who is around very young children.

The Southwest Incident Management Team (SWIMT), a multi-agency team, will join this event to test the ability of a point of distribution with the Montezuma County Health Department.  SWIMT will work with staff and volunteers in setting up, securing the area, responding to the special needs of patients, operations, and completing a point of distribution site. To maintain skills, the team performs exercises at least four times a year with simulations and other complex training. More than 12 team members from the area recently returned from assisting the City of Evans during the floods.

SWIMT is the fifth Type III incident management team certified by the State of Colorado. The team exists as a resource to the region and can be requested if an agency’s resources are overwhelmed by an incident.  Depending on the incident’s needs, the full team may be utilized, or just a specialty area of the team.  The team or even a member or two can assist or advise the jurisdiction with incident management, organization, and available support.