Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Behind the scenes of the Alpine World Ski Championships: How safety and security measures will impact you


  • Security bag checks will be in place at event venues
  • Six community legacy projects for enhanced public safety
  • Expect a safe and professional event in an uncompromised and enjoyable experience

  • The Opening Ceremony of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships on Monday, Feb. 2 at Solaris’ Championship Plaza in Vail will mark more than three years of planning by members of the event’s Safety and Security Committee, chaired by Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger. The Safety and Security Committee is one of 21 operational groups that have been tasked by the Local Organizing Committee to help coordinate the large-scale event which will attract an estimated 150,000 spectators over the course of the two weeks. The security staffing will involve the coordination of more than 700 credentialed emergency responders from local, state and federal agencies.

    2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships Safety and Security Team
    Drawing upon his experiences at the Winter Olympics in 2002 and 2010, a presence at past Ski World Championships and his national response role on wildfires in the West and Hurricane Katrina, Chief Henninger has been incorporating lessons learned into his years of security planning. This includes the Boston Marathon bombing which has become a game-changer for sporting events across the U.S. and has necessitated the implementation of precautionary security bag checks that will be taking place at Championships’ venues in Vail and Beaver Creek.

    Chief Henninger says that while there will be as many as 200 emergency personnel from law enforcement, fire, EMS and other disciplines available to respond on any given day, the goal of the planning effort is to be nearly invisible to the public. “If we’re successful, the public should never know that this committee existed,” says Henninger. The goal is to deliver a safe and professional event and an uncompromised and enjoyable experience. “This means the right people are in the right places so they may anticipate problems, respond effectively, adapt to every situation and recover from an incident, if needed,” he says. The coordination includes a completely integrated incident command system, a seamless communications system and effective public safety relationships that have been developed during previous training exercises in preparation for the Championships.

    All the while, Chief Henninger has assured local community members that routine calls for service won’t change during the event. “We’ll have full staffing to meet our normal day-to-day call load responsibilities,” says Henninger. This is because the event is being supported by public safety representatives from more than 20 local, regional, state and federal agencies. Security staffing/overtime costs are being covered by the respective budgets of local, regional, state and federal agencies.

    One of the most significant community benefits resulting from the work of the Safety & Security Committee will live on in six legacy projects that will have a lasting impact throughout the region. Chief Henninger identifies the six benefits as: 1) upgrades to the public safety radio system in Eagle County for increased capacity; 2) improvements to the Eagle County Emergency Operations Center which will continue to provide a venue for incident coordination and support after the event; 3) institutionalization of the  Incident Command System (ICS) protocols throughout Eagle County for improved multi-agency response coordination; 4) completion of a video camera system in Vail’s public areas to include 23 security cameras in Vail Village and Lionshead; 5) enhancement of the Event Command Post in the Vail Police Department with the addition of eight video monitors that will be used for ongoing high-profile events and large-scale emergencies; 6) creation of a new communications tool, ecemergency.blogspot.com, which provides a single outlet for distribution of real-time emergency and public information updates from agencies throughout Eagle County.

    The presence of public safety officials will be most noticeable at event venue areas during the Championships. This will include the Red Tail Finish Stadium in Beaver Creek, Championships Plaza at Solaris in Vail Village and the Golden Peak Stadium in Vail at the bottom of the Riva Bahn Gondola (Chair 6). The bag checkpoint stations will be located at the venue entries and will be used to search all bags prior to entry into the secured areas. Bags must be smaller than 9” x 10” x 17” and may contain items such as cameras, mobile devices, binoculars, cowbells, water bottles, snacks, etc. Clothing and blankets are also permissible if carried by hand. For safety reasons prohibited items include illegal drugs, weapons, knives with blades over 3.5 inches, glass bottles, alcohol, umbrellas and air horns. Narcotics and drug paraphernalia will be confiscated on site and the person in possession will be subject to arrest. Marijuana consumption is prohibited at the venues and will be strictly enforced. A flier with details on the bag check screening will be available at many lodges throughout the valley as well as the Welcome Centers in Vail Village and Lionshead. The flier may be downloaded online at http://vailbeavercreek2015.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/2015-BagCheckFlier.pdf.

    Chief Henninger says a critical component of the safety and security communications effort will be to create widespread awareness about the bag check policy. Also, awareness regarding unattended packages will also be critical. If members of the public see a bag or package left unattended, they will be asked not to touch or move the item, to alert the nearest security or police officer or to call 911 in case of an emergency.

    Public safety messages during the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships will be communicated via EC Alert (www.ecalert.org) and ecemergency.blogspot.com. This will include any emergency information as well as daily tips and safety announcements such as staying hydrated, preventing frostbite, use of sunscreen, safe tire tread, etc.

    Participating agencies involved in the safety and security response for the Alpine World Ski Championships include the following:

    Local/Regional Agencies
    • Vail Police Department
    • Vail Fire Department
    • Town of Vail Public Works and Transportation
    • Avon Police Department
    • Eagle River Fire Protection District
    • Vail Resorts - Vail and Beaver Creek
    • Eagle County Sheriff’s Office
    • Eagle County Public Health
    • Eagle County Paramedic Services
    • Eagle County Office of Emergency Management and County Attorney
    • Vail Public Safety Communications Center
    • Vail Valley Foundation
    • Lone Star Security
    • Greater Eagle Fire Protection District
    • Gypsum Fire Department
    • Copper Mountain Consolidated Metropolitan District
    • Jefferson County Sheriff's Office
    • Grand Junction Police and Fire Departments
    • 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office
    State Agencies
    • Colorado State Patrol
    • Colorado State Office of  Homeland Security and Emergency Management
    • Colorado Department of Transportation
    • Colorado Information Analysis Center
    Federal Agencies
    • FEMA
    • FBI
    • US Forest Service
    • Transportation Security Administration
    • Department of Homeland Security
    • Secret Service
    For more information, contact Joint Information Center Lead Public Information Officer Suzanne Silverthorn at 970-748-5908 or ssilverthorn@vailgov.com.

    Note: To arrange for an interview with Chief Dwight Henninger, Chair of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships Safety and Security Committee, contact Suzanne Silverthorn at the number listed above.