Sunday, September 15, 2019

County working to update plans for facility safety

Buildings and evacuation plans being updated; smartphone app on the way

By Adam Broderick

Gunnison County has budgeted for a smartphone application to provide county employees with easily accessible facility safety plans in case of emergency. This comes as part of the process of updating facility safety plans for county buildings, some of which have not been updated in many years. The app will be intuitive, providing access to emergency evacuation plans and featuring user-friendly icons to call 9-1-1, view maps, and more.

County manager Matthew Birnie told county commissioners on Tuesday, December 15, that due to some recent events across the country, the county employees working to update governmental facility safety plans are more focused lately.

“Because of incidents where the tactics seem to be shifting a bit to multiple attacks—terrorism, someone simply unhinged, or natural disaster—some aspects to these safety measures and training procedures need to be updated,” Birnie said. “The app would be useful if something happens and people need to be located or information needs to get out to the public.”

Birnie added that some of the old safety plans were done over a decade ago, such as the Blackstock [government] Building, which was remodeled 15 years ago, where some alarm systems can be set off due to vibrations and other random sounds or movements. Once facilities are updated, those buildings would be safer in the event of an emergency. Birnie said that with the facility updates would come evacuation training drills and other educational efforts for staff in those buildings, as well as the smartphone app.

Scott Morrill, emergency manager for Gunnison County, told the Crested Butte News that the committee working to update the county buildings put in for the software so employees would be able to download it to their phones.

“Safety Center is the name of the software we’re looking at for internal emergencies for the county organization. I expect the contract to be in place next week and we should be able to get going on it the first week of January,” Morrill said.

Deputy emergency manager Bobbie Lucero confirmed that the app should be ready for download by spring 2016. She also said there is already software available to notify the public in emergency situations. It’s called Code Red, and right now it’s set up for landlines but anyone can take the few extra steps to register their cell phone or email address with the program.

“If you want to know about a gas leak or a perhaps wildfire that jeopardizes a subdivision, you can register your cell phone so you receive emergency notifications by call or text. You can also register an email address,” she said.

To register for Code Red, visit www.gunnisoncounty.org/emergency and follow the link at the top of the page.

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