Emergency operations center takes leap forward

Phillips 66 Pipeline recently granted $25,000 to help with emergency management. Pictured outside the UCSD No. 1 bus barn where a generator will be placed are Evanston Mayor Kent Williams, Uinta County Commissioner Craig Welling, Roland Park of Evanston Regional Hospital, Uinta County Commissioner Mark Anderson, Uinta County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Rowdy Dean, Commisioner Eric South, Uinta County School District No. 1 Transportation Director George Dickerson, UCSD No. 1 Superintendent Ryan Thomas, UCSD No. 1 Trustee Jami Brackin, Trustee Jenny Welling, Uinta County Emergency Management Coordinator Kim West, UCSD No. 1 Facility Director Jarron Dennis, Public Health Nurse Manager Kim Proffit, UCSD No. 1 Trustee Tammy Walker, Uinta County Public Health Response Coordinator Susan Dasher and T.J. Jones and Colt Farley, both with Phillips 66 Pipeline. (HERALD PHOTO/Kayne Pyatt)

EVANSTON — Uinta County Public Health Response Coordinator Susan Dasher is a determined woman. Because of her dedication and persistence, Uinta County is moving closer to meeting the need for an emergency power backup in case of a major power outage. 

“When all power is down in the event of a natural or human-caused disaster, nothing works. You can’t even open electrical doors, fill a car with gas, use emergency equipment or any of the things we take for granted,” Dasher said. “We need a generator capable of handling an emergency response.”

According to Dasher, the use of Uinta County School District No. 1’s bus barn as an emergency facility has been discussed in many meetings since 1999. However, in the event of a major power outage, that facility, as well as other local emergency facilities, would all be useless. Planning partners knew they needed a designated facility to house a backup emergency operation center that would be outside the possible impact area, had lots of room, already had infrastructure in place and had a generator for backup power. The UCSD No. 1 Transportation Department had been a longtime partner in the planning and the bus barn met all the requirements but lacked the needed generator. 

Dasher said Colt Farley with Phillips 66 Pipeline, who attends Public Health emergency planning meetings quarterly, had mentioned a Phillips 66 philanthropy grant that was available. 

Dasher and George Dickerson, the school district’s transportation director, worked together and submitted a proposal to Phillips 66 Pipeline in September 2018. 

Because the complete cost of a backup generator amounted to more than the grant would provide, Dasher met with other interested parties, including City of Evanston grant writer Mieke Madrid, first responders, Evanston Mayor Kent Williams and Uinta County Clerk Amanda Hutchinson, as well as State of Wyoming grant facilitators and the Uinta County commissioners in January. She was given the go-ahead to try to secure additional funding for the project.

UCSD No. 1 and Public Health had funds to contribute. The Uinta County Fire District promised $7,000. The county commissioners asked emergency management to write a Wyoming Homeland Security Grant to cover the cost of the storage tank, which would fuel the generator, at a cost of $10,600. 

The Phillips 66 Pipeline grant in the amount of $25,000 was awarded to the school district in late April. Dasher said the district received the money a month later, so now they can move forward with plans. 

The emergency response planning group decided to use that money to purchase the disconnect/meter housing at a cost of approximately $8,000 and the open, automatic transfer switch for a 600-amp service at a cost of $5,000, which should be delivered this month.

Farley and T.J. Jones with Phillips 66 Pipeline visited the Bus Barn on Tuesday, June 4, to officially present a check to UCSD No. 1 Superintendent Ryan Thomas and tour the facility. Involved parties attending were Williams, Uinta County Commissioners Craig Welling, Mark Anderson and Eric South; Uinta County Public Health Nurse Manager Kim Proffit, Uinta County Emergency Manager Kim West, UCSD No. 1 board members Jenny Welling, Tammy Walker and Jami Brackin; school district facility director Jaraun Dennis, county tech and electrical maintenance director Jeff Breininger, Roland Park of Evanston Regional Hospital, along with Dasher and Dickerson.

Dasher and Dickerson took the group to the site where the generator will be placed next to an electrical box. The tour continued inside the bus barn facility to the room that will become the incident command area, then to another room which will house the communication equipment and lastly to the break room for the use of emergency response workers. 

“We found out on June 3 that the Homeland Security grant was denied, so we still need to secure funds to purchase the 500-gallon aboveground Convault tank to fuel the generator, purchase all the wiring and electrical conduit and connections and have a certified electrician complete the wiring, and purchase the 150kw diesel Gen-Set at a cost of about $35,000. Our next phase is a briefing and action plan, so we need all of our partners involved to make a plan regarding the cost and what comes next,” Dasher said.

Some of the needed funds, Dasher said, will be covered by what is remaining from the Phillips 66 Pipeline grant, UCSD No. 1, Uinta County Public Health (including a CDC and Wyoming Public Health Preparedness & Response Division grant that funds Dasher’s position), the Uinta County Fire Board and in-kind labor and equipment from Uinta County maintenance and the City of Evanston Public Works Department. 

“We have named this project the ‘Bus Barn Project’ as a backup county emergency operations center for local and county incidents and as a joint operations center for use by any entity that has an incident they need to respond to,” Dasher said.

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