Colorado Springs accredited by emergency management nonprofit

May 22, 2013 Updated: May 22, 2013 at 7:30 pm

The Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management will greet the summer with a new national approval rating, joining Denver and the state of Colorado in similar standards for emergency communications, planning and disaster recovery, the city announced in a news release Thursday.

The entire city, including the police and fire departments, received accreditation from the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP), a non-profit disaster management group that helps cities and counties around the country make sure they meet high standards for emergency management. To get the accreditation, the city had to do a self-assessment of 64 criteria - including training it offers and how the city works with mutual aid - and earlier this month had its assessment reviewed by emergency managers from cities and counties around the country.

"The importance of accepting and meeting national standards is it really demonstrates that commitment to public safety," said Nicole Ishmael, executive director of EMAP.

For the city, getting accredited has the same attraction, and offered a way for the city's emergency programs to compare themselves to programs nationwide, said Kenneth Hughlett, the city's emergency management coordinator.

"You've measured yourself against a national standard," he said on Wednesday. "All the programs are on the top tier of your industry, so you've looked at the standard and judged it against other agencies."

Earlier this spring, the city opened its new center for emergency management, which had nothing to do with the accreditation process, Hughlett said. The city's old emergency center and back-up plan had passed accreditation by EMAP, he added.

The accreditation process begins with a $450 yearly subscription to EMAP's online seminars and tips for emergency management. Then, the jurisdiction must do a self-assessment and see if its emergency response plans meet the 64 guidelines required by EMAP. EMAP's accreditation fees differ based on city populations - for cities the size of Colorado Springs the fee is $3,500 - and that accredits programs for five years, explained Ishmael. EMAP reimbursed Colorado Springs for the travel costs for the emergency managers who did the May assessment.

EMAP has accredited 43 emergency programs throughout the country, all of which have met the same standards. There are not varied levels for programs - emergency plans either meet the standards or they don't, Ishmael said. -

Contact Ryan Maye Handy: 636-0261

Twitter @ryanmhandy

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