Linhart, Honn keep campus protected and ready for possible dangers
Published: Monday, April 16, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 16, 2012 01:04
Due to the extremely dry conditions and a recent wildfire that got out of control a couple weeks ago near Denver, the emergency management team at UCCS has been on high alert in case a wildfire occurs here on campus.
Steve Linhart, the director of emergency management, and campus fire marshal Ron Honn believe that wildfires can be prevented if the necessary steps are taken.
“Since the city of Colorado Springs doesn’t do controlled burns like they do in Denver, we never really have to worry about that,” said Honn, who is also an environmental health and safety specialist on campus.
“If a wildfire did occur, we would make a call to the closest fire station near UCCS and then Incident Command Response would be on scene to evaluate the scene and its severity,” Linhart explained.
Incident Command Response is a unit comprised of people in uniform that the situation calls for. Whether that be police officers, utility workers or another group, the ICR is responsible for managing the on-scene response.
Linhart went on to explain that it is a lot more complicated than just the ICR though. “You have your basics in the fire, police and EMT (emergency medical team) that respond first thing. Then campus leadership is alerted, as well, to make the best decision for the safety of the campus and how this emergency will affect campus.
“If the event is serious, we have an Emergency Operations Center set up to help the ICR and make some administrative decisions, too.”
Honn and Linhart both said they almost had a wildfire get out of control last spring up by the Rec Center.
“We think it was a cigarette that wasn’t disposed of that triggered it, and with it being so windy and dry in the spring anyways, the fire got big pretty quick,” said Linhart.
“The winds made it way worse and a possible threat to campus housing, so we called the local station as soon as possible,” Honn added. “The landscape area around the building made the fire grow pretty quick, but the unit was able to control it and it never became a problem with the on campus housing.”
Being that UCCS is so spread out over variable terrain, both Linhart and Honn agreed that communication and awareness are the biggest keys.
“After 9/11 happened, the government realized there was a lack of communication between agencies and something needed to be done about that to prevent another emergency from getting out of hand,” said Honn.
“That is where ICR and the Emergency Operations Center came into play and that has really helped make communication easier between groups and agencies that respond to emergencies.”
Linhart agreed and said that teaching the campus how to respond is important as well. “In the case of a wildfire, people on campus need to know how to be aware and respond to a situation like that. We need the campus to act on incidents like that and that all goes back to what Ron said about communication.”
Linhart also said the e2Campus notification system has become a big part of how the emergency management and public safety staff get an alert out to campus.
“The system sends a text, email, a phone call to all front desks, tweet, or posts on Facebook when an emergency occurs on campus,” he explained.
“We have to manage a large amount of resources in a short amount of time when it comes to these events, and so far we have really had nothing get out of control, which shows how aware and prepared our campus is.”