Leadville News – June 7

Heads Up – This Is Only An Emergency Exercise

On Thursday, June 7, Lake County emergency responders and supporting agencies will hold their annual full-scale exercise.  The event will take place from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.  and focus on responding to the consequences of a wildfire. 

Last summer, Highway 24 South of Leadville was closed due to a small wildfire, that crews quickly extinguished. Photo: Leadville Today/Kathy Bedell.

Residents and visitors may notice an increase in emergency vehicle activity at several site points involved in the exercise, including the college, Highway 24 at County Rd. 10 and Highway 82, as well as the Mount Elbert Power Plant parking lot in Twin Lakes. The exercise will include volunteers evacuating their homes to a shelter, allowing responders and supporting agencies to work through any potential issues in the event of a real wildfire.

“This is an exercise only,” expressed Betty Benson, Public Information Office for the Lake County Office of Emergency Management (LCOEM).  “Please do not call 911 about this exercise.  If you have questions please call 211.” 

These exercises provide great training for local agencies as well as federal and state partners to work together quickly and efficiently in the event of a real wildfire. Across the state emergency officials are seeing early wildfires and Colorado is very dry.  LCOEM asks that everyone be careful with any outdoor fires.  Everyone should be cautious with campfires.  Make sure your fire is out before you leave the camp site.   For current fire restrictions across the state: CLICK HERE

Residents can stay plugged in throughout the summer by connecting with the LCOEM Facebook Page and by signing up sign up for phone alerts in the event of any emergency situation in or impacting Lake County.  

Hospital Secures New Ambulance for Fleet

In other emergency news, St. Vincent Hospital has recently acquired a new ambulance for its fleet. 

The new $243,944 vehicle and additional equipment is a result of over twelve months of fundraising and planning, according to St. Vincent General Hospital’s Director of Outreach and Development Karen Onderdonk.

The hospital submitted a grant request to Colorado Department of Health and Environment EMS and Trauma funding in 2017 and was approved for 50% funding on a new ambulance and additional equipment. The equipment portion of the grant funded a new ZOLL heart rate monitor/defibrillator and a Stryker cot and Stryker power load system. The cot and power load system are among numerous features in the ambulance that are designed for the safety of patients and medics.  

Pictured with the new Ambulance (L-R) are Paramedics, Jeremiah Grantham and Jonathan Burk. Photo: St. Vincent Hospital.

“Our goal is to replace our ambulances every ten years depending on mileage and condition. The addition of our new ambulance has kept us on track with this goal,” said Tom Schwander Ambulance Service Director at St. Vincent Hospital. Until earlier this month, the ambulance service had 3 ambulances: A 2015 Dodge (also bought with CDPHE partial funding), a 2008 and 2004 Ford. The 2004 ambulance will be retired from the SVH fleet and according to Onderdonk, may be sold.

The SVH ambulance service area is approximately 400 square miles.  Add to that, severe weather conditions and at times, challenging terrain, and no doubt, these vehicles see some wear and tear.  Schwander is vigilant about maintenance and upkeep to ensure the fleet of ambulances is reliable, the hospital reported. And that’s good to know as Lake County heads into what will most likely see its busiest summer season in many years.


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