Colorado Wildfires: Reflections from 22 year Emergency Services Veteran

This month agencies, communities, and responders across the nation will focus on wildfire preparedness during May. During this month I am reminded of the responsibility we have as homeowners, agency personnel, and responders to do our part in preventing catastrophic fires. As a responder of many years on wildfires, I am reminded that we all have a responsibility to ourselves, our communities, and the role we play during a wildfire event.

For the past twenty-three years, I have worked alongside some amazing professionals in emergency management. During that time, I have experienced how important the incident command system is when it is implemented and applied correctly. Working with individuals who have taken ICS classes and learned how to apply them to complex situations. Understanding and knowing the importance of each ICS position is key to being successful and providing timely support and assistance to affected communities. This structure provides all of us with a common operating picture that is understood across all agency lines.

This past year in Colorado the Cameron Peak fire was an example of how the ICS structure provided the base foundation in which operations continued and remained consistent. Over four months, 11 incident management teams rotated through. The faces changed by the overall operational picture appeared constant and seamless to the agencies that needed support and the communities needing assistance.

Despite my more than two decades of experience on all-hazard incidents from the local to the national level I continue to be a student of ICS. Continually taking classes, attending educational webinars, and participating in ICS for planned events, training opportunities, and incidents helps me refresh my knowledge and provides opportunities to further develop others and build sustainability in the system.


LAURA McCONNELL, PIO1- Public Information Officer (PIO)/Crisis Communications Specialist

Liz McConnell PIO Crisis Communications Specialist ICS300 ICS400

Laura McConnell began her career in the Emergency Services in 1999. Over her 22-year career has served in the emergency services in a variety of roles: firefighter, EMT, instructor, project, and program developer and now Crisis Communication Specialist. She has a background in Behavior Science and Special Needs Education. She is a Type 1 Public Information Officer has dedicated over 16-years to working with incident management teams across the nation. Her passion is in fire aviation and developing curriculum related to crisis communications and Joint Information Centers.

Laura McConnell, PIO1        Fire/Aviation Communications Specialist                 C: 303-775-9132 

Be the first to comment

All comments are moderated before being published