mayor, City Council
Express Staff Writer
services leaders say the Wood River Valley is as prepared as it can be for
any likely disaster—including fire, hazardous materials spills,
technical rescues and emergency medical needs.
Assistant Fire Chief Greg Schwab
the message provided by Ketchum’s Assistant Fire Chief Greg Schwab and
Police Chief Cal Nevland during a special meeting called Friday at Ketchum
think it’s incumbent on us to review these at all times but especially
in the wake of what’s happened," Mayor David Hutchinson said.
"Are we prepared and protected against circumstances that are
A list of
training courses taken by Ketchum firefighters, which Schwab distributed
to council members, includes emergency response to terrorism and handling
hazardous chemical, biological and nuclear materials.
Schwab said any terrorist act in the Wood River Valley is more likely to
be from domestic groups rather than international ones.
of our biggest concerns is ecoterrorism in the valley, similar to what
happened at Vail," Schwab said.
Bald Mountain is a potential target for people with such aims. In a later
interview, he said lodges on the mountain are protected by alarms and
water tanks installed for snowmaking have been modified with fixtures that
can accept fire department hoses.
the council that a major disaster concern here is a hazardous materials
spill. He added in an interview that proper response to such a spill
involves primarily knowing how to plug a leak or otherwise stop the flow
of the material.
said his biggest security concern has been that associated with visiting
dignitaries and conventions, such as Mexican President Vicente Fox’s
appearance at this summer’s Allen and Co. meeting. He said more than 200
security officers accompanied that event.
Police Chief Cal Nevland briefs the City Council on Friday on the city’s
state of readiness to cope with emergencies or disasters.
said security officers for that and similar meetings coordinate things
with him two to three months in advance, questioning him about "who
is the nut here who could try to do something."
council members that the Ketchum Fire Department is trained to deal with
escalating emergencies and hazardous materials.
Maurice Charlot asked about potential poisoning of the city’s water
supply. Nevland said access to the water supply is covered by an alarm,
but acknowledged that a properly trained person could disarm it. Schwab,
however, pointed out that any contaminant put into the water would be very
diluted once it reached people’s homes.
interview, Hailey Fire Chief Mike Chapman said emergency response
providers there have taken reasonable steps to address any likely
disaster. However, he added, that such resources are fairly limited
throughout the Wood River Valley.
could always exceed our response capability," he said, citing as an
example a crash landing of a large jet making an emergency attempt at
Friedman Memorial Airport.
said the most likely source of hazardous-material contamination in Hailey
is chlorine from the water-treatment plant. He said several members of the
fire department are trained as specialists in handling chlorine spills.
acknowledged that a truck driving through the valley could accidentally
spill a variety of exotic poisonous substances for which local fire
departments are not specifically trained. In such a case, he said, local
departments would seek help from the state hazardous-materials team in
good thing is, we’re on the road to nowhere in the transport
system," he said.
urged residents to get involved in any of various community-protection
activities, including donating blood, joining Wood River Search and Rescue
or even joining the local Lion’s and Rotary clubs. In a severe disaster,
he said, "rather than just recruiting people off the street to help,
you try to find people who are already organized."