Park City and Summit County hope for the best, prepare for the worst
If there is any lesson to be learned from the one-two punch of national tragedies this week, it is this: life can go from comfortable to catastrophic in the blink of an eye.
That may not be a particularly reassuring thought, but local residents can take some comfort from the fact that Park City and Summit County officials have detailed disaster plans and conduct regular multiagency training sessions.
One of those exercises took place on Tuesday and, while that particular drill focused on preparing for a potential earthquake, it offered all of the participating entities valuable practice in communicating with each other and with citizens.
Park City’s Emergency Management Plan is posted on the city’s website, http://www.parkcity.org/index.aspx?page=83 , and is reviewed annually. Hugh Daniels, a former city councilor, serves as the city’s emergency program manager. His responsibilities include coordinating equipment, personnel and training among city departments and working as a liaison with county, state and federal resources.
His counterpart at the County Courthouse is Kevin Callahan whose job, in addition to public works administrator, includes keeping the county’s emergency plan and training up to date.
Both work closely with the county health department which offers a comprehensive home emergency planning guide for residents that can be found here: http://www.summitcountyhealth.org/adults/emergency-preparedness/
According to Daniels, citizens need to take some responsibility for preparing for a local disaster be it natural or manmade. The health department’s planning guide has a lot of good information. Additionally, Daniels suggests that residents register their cell phones to receive emergency alerts from the city and county. He said that landlines are automatically listed on the system but cell phones are not.
To get those alerts on a cell phone, go to http://www.co.summit.ut.us/ and look for the CODE RED tab on the lower left corner of the home page. The system allows the county to broadcast several thousand messages per hour to cell phones, landlines and other platforms. Those alerts could be used to warn citizens about severe storms, wildfires or dangerous fugitives.
Park City residents can take advantage of a similar service by logging on to http://parkcity.org/ and clicking on the Emergency Notification Phone Registry link.
And one more note. New technology, combined with an alert citizenry, may be the best protection of all. That is why national officials have been repeating the message: If you see something, say something. That goes for our own hometowns, too.
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Steve Berlack, whose son died in an avalanche in 2015, writes in a letter to the editor that “[i]f you want to venture into the backcountry, do it safely. Get the education you need. … Understand the forecast. Make conservative decisions like your life depends on it.”