Park City Emergency Manager Hugh Daniels Retires
Park City council honored Hugh Daniels last week, as he retired after 11 years as the city’s emergency manager.
Daniels, also a former City Council Member, says he ran an operation that basically had the slogan “Plan for the Best, Expect the Worst.”
In an interview last week with KPCW, Daniels recalled that he came to Park City in 1983, opening the first full-time bed and breakfast in town, the Old Miners Lodge.
“I got involved with the chamber bureau. I was on the board of directors off-and-on for about 6 years. I was chairman I think ’91, ’92 something like that. I spent a little time on the Main Street association at the time.” Eventually that experience lead Daniels to run for city council he lost his first election race before becoming a member of the council.
He said the City Council during his term did a lot of things.
“You actually can blame us for paid parking, we started it. That was between 1996 and 2000, we were preparing for the Olympics. We did the flag staff annexation, which is now Empire Pass”
He sold the Lodge in 2004 and moved into consulting work. Then an opportunity came up with Park City Municipal.
“I was having lunch with then city manager Tom Bakaly who said, ‘you know, we really haven’t done anything with our emergency plan since the Olympics, would you be interested?’. Before I came to Park City I was the chief paramedic for the city of Pasadena, California. I said well gee, that would be kind of fun, probably, to go back into public safety. So, I took on that job just as a contract, and within 5 months I was the city’s emergency manager.”
Daniels said he started an Emergency operation basically from scratch, writing a 32-page Comprehensive Emergency Plan.
He also set up an Emergency Operations Center.
“We’re not busy enough or big enough to have a full-time one like Salt Lake or Salt Lake County. We had just finished the public safety building, Chief Lloyd Evans and I, along with Scott Robertson our I.T. director took that front training room and developed into what I call an E.O.C. on wheels.”
“we can roll that up and put together in about 30 minutes. We got that down to a fine science with a number of city staff who serve on the E.O.C. management group. We fill those seats in a major emergency or disaster, and we exercise that all the time. Everything’s on carts and wheels”
He said the center can be set up anywhere in the city. It’s been used for a number of special events.
“We did use the E.O.C. for the (…) Swine Flu pandemic.”
He said the timing for that event was good.
“We had actually just finished ours, so it was a good way to test it. So, we provided E.O.C. services for (the Health Department and School District)”
They also provided support during the Rockport Fire.
Daniels said they have two major concerns. One is wildfire, the other is an earthquake along the Wasatch Front. That event is overdue.
“A 7.0 in the valley is probably about a 5.6 for us up here. (…) For us that’s still a pretty good earthquake. Most of this town was built since the 70’s and most of its worked construction not reinforced masonry. We’ll lose facades on main street, we’ll lose parapets, we’ll have some chimneys fall of. But, compared to the valley our damage will be considerably less than what it would be down in the valley.”
“Our problem is that they expect Interstate 80, Interstate 84, Utah 189 all to end up with landslides. We expect to pretty much be an island for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.” Daniels explains that crews will be quick to find a solution though
“In the plan with region 8 of FEMA, they will bring in equipment immediately to try to open up those corridors. Not only will they need to get supplies down into the valley, which will have significant damage, they’re also major thorough-fairs for the country”
He said that individuals also have to be prepared. Daniels said the word from store owners is that once delivery trucks can’t get to Park City, their shelves will be clear in 48 to 72 hours.
Daniels said he’s not retiring completely. He will still be working with the International Association of Emergency Managers, where he serves as Treasurer. He also might do some teaching for the state or FEMA.