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Wildfire Drill Kicks Off Wildfire Season In Colorado’s High Country

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A 3-day wildfire drill in Summit County included all agencies. (credit: CBS)

A 3-day wildfire drill in Summit County included all agencies. (credit: CBS)

GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES

FRISCO, Colo. (CBS4)- Firefighters, EMTs, sheriff’s deputies and emergency management personnel gathered for a practice session this week in Summit County to prepare for wildfire season in Colorado.

The drill was designed to test the response and communication between departments with three different wildfires scenarios, one for each day.

“When you’re designing an exercise like this we really wanted to create a complex management scenario for the teams to have to change their priorities, adjust to changing conditions, changing fires, new risks to the public and have them work through this,” said Summit County Emergency Management spokesman Joel Cochran.

The exercise was set up to encompass all departments and contingencies, including a Red Cross shelter and community meeting.

The scenario on Tuesday had one fire that was started by lightning quickly spread by high winds.

“There is a lot of talk about not if, but when,” said Cochran.

In some mountain neighborhoods law enforcement personnel went door to door to practice what it would take to get people to move to a safer area.

When asked how long it would take to evacuate, one Silverthorne police officer answered, “Pretty consistently it’s been 10 to 15 minutes that they would get out of the house. Most of them are prepared just because of the location where we live.”

The exercise is two-fold; determine a realistic evacuation timeline and learn more about the people who live there.

“We’re just trying to collect some data off of the real population we would be moving so that we could prepare for what their needs should be,” said Cochran.

No neighborhood, agency or business was left out of the drill.

“We evacuated our hospital this afternoon and simulated the evacuation of a Level 3 trauma center. It was a pretty big deal,” said Cochran.

Nurses took mannequins and make-believe patients to waiting ambulances at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center.

“We’re just trying to learn all we can to make the road as smooth as we can if we were to have an event like this,” said Cochran.

The mock scenario is so realistic a Type 3 team from Colorado participated which is typical of fighting large wildfires throughout the state.

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