City, county approve joint emergency management office

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Colorado Springs City Council and the Board of El Paso County Commissioners approved an agreement Jan. 22 to operate a joint office of emergency management. The new agency will be called the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management.

The office will be responsible for coordinating and assisting first responders in emergencies as well as preparing government and the community for disasters. The city and county currently operate separate offices.

Establishment of the new office will allow the county and the city to optimize staff resources, establish a single point of contact during major incidents and enhance communication during and after an event.

City Council passed a resolution to formally accept the three-year intergovernmental agreement, which reads in part:

“The intent of this Agreement is to form a cooperative agency staffed by City and County personnel to serve the citizens of Colorado Springs and El Paso County by building a more resilient community through collaboration and competence in emergency management services, and by providing mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, and coordination for large-scale emergencies and disasters, saving lives and preventing property damage.”

Mayor John Suthers said, “natural disasters in our region, particularly fires and floods, do not observe municipal boundaries. We can most efficiently prepare for an emergency and respond to one by coordinating our efforts on a regional basis.”

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Suthers has said establishment of the joint emergency management office was one of his priorities for 2019.

“Consolidating the county and city offices of emergency management will allow for greater efficiency in planning and training for emergencies and in responding to them,” he said. “This effort will result in greater public safety for years to come.”

Commissioner Stan VanderWerf said the county’s partnership with the city is “yielding great results. Regionalizing the office of emergency management will cut down on government duplication and will result in a more efficient response in the event of another disaster. Bold innovations like this is what make El Paso County an attractive place to raise a family, work or start a business.”

The office of emergency management will operate under a regional director. That individual will be selected by the city’s chief of staff, Jeff Greene, and El Paso County administrator Henry Yankowski. The city and county will contribute equally to the budget for the new agency.

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