Community Insights: La Plata County

May 7, 2024

The La Plata County Office of Emergency Management conducted its annual emergency evacuation exercises, focusing on preparing businesses in Bodo Park for potential emergencies like fires. Participants engaged in immersive simulations to experience evacuation scenarios firsthand, emphasizing the importance of preparedness. While many have evacuation plans for their homes, the exercises highlighted the need for workplace evacuation plans. Strengthening communication between residents and local agencies remains a top priority, with CodeRED serving as an electronic emergency notification system for prompt dissemination of critical alerts. By Sadie Smith. This story is sponsored by Alpine Bank.

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Hi, I'm Eric Eicher, employee owner and president of Alpine Bank Durango. At Alpine Bank, we believe in the power of community and connecting you with the resources you need to work, live, and play in our community. I hope you enjoy this edition of "Community Insights."

The La Plata County Office of Emergency Management conducted its annual emergency evacuation drills focusing on equipping businesses in Bodo Park with evacuation plans in case of emergencies such as a fire. As part of their wildfire preparedness efforts, immersive simulation exercises were implemented where participants experience the urgency of evacuation scenarios firsthand.

We photoshopped a lot of different fires coming over this ridge that I'm looking at out front with air tankers and helicopters, and fire and wind. So, we try to bring the participants, which we have quite a few people here today, into that room so they can feel the pressure. And they only have like three hours to be able to go and evacuate from their business residence.

While many people have an evacuation plan for a house fire, many people lack a plan for a workplace or business fire.

Just never really thought about the idea of a wildfire in this case or an emergency impacting in town Durango, impacting the Bodo area here. And the group yesterday wanted to make it very clear that it could happen and that preparation for that would be essential to make sure that we can continue being a business during, and/or after if a fire were to come over Bodo Hill right down into us.

The annual Emergency Evacuation Exercise strengthens communication between residents and local agencies. Solid communication is a top priority if an emergency were to take place to ensure effective collaboration between the community and emergency service providers.

It's a great way to engage with the community and it's a really good way for the Incident Management Teams and the participants, and all the local and state and federal agencies to just work together and practice every year. You know, after winter is usually a slough wildfire season, so it's good to get a practice run in before we could potentially get busy for the summer.

To notify the public of an emergency, emergency management sends Code Red messages. Code Red is an electronic emergency notification system used by local public safety authorities to promptly alert residents and businesses about potential emergencies that require immediate action. Notifications are delivered via telephone, text message, and email for quick delivery of critical alerts.

We use Code Red as alert notification for anything in our county, whether it could be an active shooter, it could be an accident dispatch. We work very closely with a dispatch 911 center. They send out immediate evacuations. We follow up with pre-evacuations or different notices to people. So, it could be anything. It could be for fire, it could be for a flood, it could be for an active shooter. Any kind of situation where we need immediate access to people in that area. People must sign up for Code Red.

La Plata County officials recommend that all county residents sign up for Code Red to stay informed in the case of an emergency. In the event of an emergency, a Code Red message will go out similar to a reverse 911 call with a link to Clicking this link brings up a map indicating the fire's location with areas marked in red, yellow, or green. Red denotes immediate danger, prompting caution, while yellow advises preparing to evacuate, and green indicates likely evacuation. Instructions for Code Red signup are available on La Plata County website. We're proud to present "Community Insights" powered by the Local News Network and sponsored by Alpine Bank. With "Community Insights", our mission is to foster a stronger and more connected community in La Plata County and beyond. For more information about this and other stories, visit Thank you for watching this edition of "Community Insights." I'm Sadie Smith.


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