ANEN is a community-based effort to provide organized assistance to area residents in preparing for emergency events that may arise to threaten “life as usual” in the mountain community served by the Allenspark Fire Protection District (AFPD). ANEN was created in 2011 by area residents concerned that large-scale emergencies such as wildfires and floods can, especially in their earliest stages, overwhelm locally-available resources such as AFPD and county law enforcement. Transportation disruptions can limit assistance by outside agencies for significant periods and require greater self-reliance for mountain communities. Recent emergency events have shown that public safety can benefit greatly from coordinated active assistance by residents trained to provide such assistance under the guidance of existing emergency service providers.
ANEN accomplishes its mission if it satisfies critical components of its plan for emergency response. These components include dissemination of factual information about current or pending emergencies to all potentially-affected residents and the mobilization of volunteer effort in accordance with an approved response plan. This effort requires enhanced and targeted communication, which is the focus of much of ANEN’s pre-emergency preparedness planning and is the basis for the establishment of AARN – the Allenspark Amateur Radio Network. ANEN’s Operating Plan for effective assistance during emergencies relies on the existence of a durable communication network. The plan assumes that normal telephone and internet communication will be lost at some point during a significant emergency event and derives its capacity to assist from volunteer action by Neighborhood Coordinators and continuing radio connectivity provided by the AARN network.
Numerous community-wide meetings each attended by as many as sixty residents each since 2011 have produced broad support for ANEN, local leadership for continued effort, teams of Neighborhood Coordinators, and a network of licensed, participating amateur radio operators (Hams). Through the generous support of Boulder County Amateur Radio Emergency Services (BCARES) a Mountain Emergency Radio Network (MERN) has provided radio equipment, technical assistance, guidance on an organizational structure and “moral support” for the creation of AARN. Through these combined efforts ANEN has become a recognized component of local emergency response, accepted in this role by AFPD and the Boulder County Office of Emergency Management, and BCARES.
ANEN’s nascent capabilities in providing emergency services were tested during the September 11-14, 2013 Colorado Front Range Foothills floods. With the loss of some road access, disrupted local power, telephone, internet service and local evacuations, communications were satisfactorily maintained, enabling sufficient assistance to those in need. In addition, valuable experience was gained that continues to inform decisions in improving ANEN’s planning for future emergencies. An important lesson was learned from the Flood of 2013:
The unique challenges and inherent vulnerabilities of living in mountain communities require individual residents to assume primary responsibility for their own safety and that of others. This can be encouraged and supported by mutual assistance and self-reliance in cooperation with existing emergency service providers.
The ANEN Operating Plan provides a framework and guidance for enhanced emergency preparedness and response.
Full Operating Plan available Here: plan-final-nov-14