Ed Ehrman and Linda Shannon-Hills
Our community is very active, but we are older Americans and each of us needs to be prepared for potential emergencies. And as a community, we need to be prepared to respond to various incidents with a plan. The question has come up often: What is the SaddleBrooke Ranch Emergency Plan? The answer is, there is only a high-level County Services plan and nothing specific to SaddleBrooke Ranch (SBR), at this point. A few residents have decided it is time to be better prepared and to communicate our local needs and provide additional information on how our residents could create their own preparedness plan.
A meeting was held at SaddleBrooke Ranch on May 6 with key supporting agencies outside our community that are responsible for aid and direction to our community in case of an emergency. We had two representatives from Golder Ranch Fire District, Deputy Chief of Operations Fred Pearce and Acting Battalion Chief Captain Mike Leslie; Pinal County Sheriff’s Department, Lt. Stacy Sherwood, responsible lead for our area; Chuck Kmet, emergency manager of the Office of Emergency Management; as well as Andrea Marchus, SBR HOA general manager and SBR HOA board president; Dani Herbert, SBR HOA assistant general manager; and two concerned residents of SBR, Ed Ehrman and Linda Shannon-Hills, in attendance for this meeting.
Each agency gave an overview of the actions they plan to take in response to our community’s needs in case of a major emergency that would cause our residents to shelter in place or evacuate. We had an open discussion with many questions, giving us a good understanding of what to expect from these agencies and guiding us on a start to developing a plan supporting our community as well as ways to communicate to our residents in the case of an emergency.
When an event happens, Pinal County Emergency Management is notified of the emergency, then sends out alerts to residents who are registered through the Pinal County Emergency Notification System of what the emergency is and how to respond. Appropriate agencies are notified as well.
If needed, a “Ready, Set, Go!” notice goes out. Ready, Set, Go! is a nationwide program adopted by the 15 Arizona sheriffs that educates residents about proactive measures to take in an emergency and actions to follow when communities are threatened. The three steps encourage Arizonans to get “ready” by preparing now for what threatens their community, be “set” by maintaining awareness of significant danger, and to “go” evacuate immediately when the danger is current and life-threatening.
The Pinal County Sheriff’s Department uses the above program when deciding the action needed. They are responsible for the emergency area and the action needed to assist residents and the other agencies for safety and traffic control.
Golder Ranch Fire District responds with the appropriate vehicles and equipment to address what the emergency requires. If they cannot come in through the SaddleBrooke Ranch front gate entrance, they have the option to come in via the fire road at the east end of SBR, which has a chained gate. This second entrance is a requirement by the International Fire Code for all developers with a community of more than 30 homes.
If residents are required to evacuate their homes and the community, the American Red Cross in Tucson has plans in place to determine shelter sites for our community.
Many residents have expressed concerns that SaddleBrooke Ranch does not have a second exit from the Ranch in case the entire community needs to evacuate. Based on various county and federal codes, our community is in compliance. The various agencies all feel our risk for complete evacuation due to an incident is minimal. If it was necessary to evacuate faster, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Department would be responsible to open the emergency entrance road for exiting the Ranch and assist with traffic control. They would also have sheriff personnel to handle the traffic entering AZ-77 if we would need to exit, just as they would direct traffic at the front entrance/exit.
A key element to successfully responding to and recovering from a major disaster is the overall preparedness of individual residents and families, as well as our community. In the weeks to come, an SBR Community Preparedness Task Force comprised of SBR residents will be working on developing a draft plan, with the idea of various scenarios of “What would you do?” to assess our level of preparedness. The HOA management will work with this task force to provide assistance from the developer perspective as needed, but much of the planning and discussion will come from the resident task force and feedback from our partner agencies.