Press contact: Valerie MacDonald, Pitkin County Emergency Manager
Valley residents, especially those who live with a disability or have access and functional challenges, are invited to participate on one of three Emergency Preparedness Workshops this spring in advance of the mud/ flood and fire seasons. Pitkin County Emergency Management, in partnership with Pitkin County Human Services, Arc of the Central Mountains, and local fire departments is hosting the free workshops in Redstone, Basalt, and Aspen.
April 9th Redstone Inn 1:30 to 3:00
April 16th Basalt Library 1:30 to 3:00
April 16th Pitkin County Library - Aspen 4:00 to 5:30
The workshops are designed to help all people, particularly those with special needs, make plans in advance of an emergency so they are ready to evacuate if told to do so immediately.
The deadly Camp Fire in Paradise, California last summer demonstrated that it is mostly people with disabilities and older adults who are at the highest risk of being left behind in a catastrophic event like a wildfire. The Sacramento Bee reported that many of the 85 people who perished in the Camp Fire in California were “elderly, infirmed, or disabled”.
“We want to be proactive in our community to avoid a similar tragedy here,” said Pitkin County Emergency Manager Valerie MacDonald. “These workshops will give our local residents the tools and the skills they need to help themselves in the event of a fast-moving emergency.”
The workshops will walk older adults and persons with disabilities, and anyone else who participates, through a discussion on the hazards residents and visitors face in the Roaring Fork Valley, the importance of signing up to receive emergency alerts, and will provide participants with a series of readiness checklists which are need-specific.
“One of the most important aspects of independent living is developing the capacity to keep ourselves safe at home, work, or in the community,” said Pitkin County Senior Services Manager, Chad Federwitz. “These workshops are invaluable to older adults and to anyone who might need a little extra time and care in an emergency,” Federwitz said.
Since wildfire is considered the most serious and potentially catastrophic natural disaster the community faces, the Aspen Fire Protection District will join forces with Roaring Fork Fire Rescue and the Carbondale and Rural Fire Department to give a presentation on wildfire preparedness and evacuation tips.
“I highly recommend that citizens with special needs and our older citizens participate in these valuable workshops, said Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Chief Scott Thompson. “We need everyone to take personal responsibility. Our best chance of getting through the next disaster safely is if our citizens are aware and prepared to take action,” Thompson said.
An Emergency Preparedness Workbook for People with Disabilities is available online at www.pitkincounty.com/emergencymanagement and at www.pitkinseniors.com. The workbook was designed for people with special needs but is also useful for anyone preparing for emergencies. It is currently being translated into Spanish.