County Update: The importance of our public safety agencies
“Routt County’s mission is to efficiently deliver a balance of services and infrastructure to provide a safe and healthy place to live for current and future generations.”
I have always appreciated this direct and straight-forward mandate to our work at Routt County. The Routt County Board of Commissioners can have no higher priority than the safety of our residents and visitors. Our scenic location in the mountains means that wildfire, flooding, blizzards and other disasters are real possibilities.
We are responsible to allocate necessary resources and support for our public safety agencies, including the Routt County Sheriff’s Office, Routt County Emergency Management, Routt County Communications and Routt County Public Health. In the event of emergencies, these agencies work closely with police departments, fire districts, search and rescue, Colorado State University Extension office, U.S. Forest Service and other state and federal partners.
Our locally elected sheriff is tasked with ensuring the safety of our residents and visitors. From law enforcement to investigations, detention to record keeping, the Sheriff’s Office serves the entire county. With the opening of our new Combined Law Enforcement Facility, we are better equipped to serve our community with the latest technology, resources and collaboration with the Steamboat Springs Police Department. Our Communications Department is there 24/7, 365 days a year to answer 911 calls and dispatch emergency services. Emergency Management helps keep Routt County safe through emergency preparedness, response and recovery. The Routt County Public Health Department provides emergency preparedness for health and medical services as well as disease surveillance and reporting.
Our road and bridge department maintains over 100 bridges and nearly 850 miles of roads essential to safe travel throughout our community. During the winter season, their role is to ensure these roads are cleared and passable for residents and visitors alike. Routt County’s Yampa Valley Regional Airport safely handles more than 100,000 enplanements every year and trains year round to be prepared for any flight emergency. The Routt County Regional Building Department ensures our homes, commercial structures and public facilities are built in accordance with the latest building codes protecting inhabitants.
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While all of the above is critical to provide for public safety, it is the responsibility of each of us to look out for ourselves and our neighbors. Routt County is very large at more than 2,368 square miles and over 100 miles of driving from our border with Eagle County on the south up to Wyoming. It can take a long time for emergency services to respond even under the best of conditions.
The winter season poses several safety risks that individuals should be prepared for. When traveling, plan ahead in case of emergency and travel with a safety kit that includes water, food, blankets and first aid supplies. While we may think that our homes are the safest place during a winter storm, the indoor air quality plays a large role in your safety. Make sure that your carbon monoxide detector is working properly and that your furnace and any solid fuel burning devices are properly maintained.
Routt County’s Office of Emergency Management is working on an update of its Hazard Mitigation Plan. While it’s your responsibility to create a family plan in the event of an emergency, it’s our role as leadership to work on a plan that covers all the different jurisdictions in our county. This is a guiding document to help reduce the risks experienced by those living in the county from natural disasters, to help protect critical infrastructure, minimize economic losses and improve communication and coordination during times of emergencies.
Let’s all work together to keep safe.
Tim Corrigan is a Routt County Commissioner, representing District 1.
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