Colorado Springs launches “COS Ready” emergency preparedness campaign

Eli Jaynes/KRCC
Mayor John Suthers and councilmembers Henjum and Helms look on as Commander Jeff Strossner demonstrates the Zonehaven system

Colorado Springs city officials unveiled a new emergency preparedness campaign on Monday. 

Known as “COS Ready,” the campaign employs software called Zonehaven, which breaks up the city into more than 600 zones based on geography, population density and a host of other factors. Officials say zones will help first responders more precisely manage emergency situations and give citizens more accurate information. 

Colorado Springs is the first city in the state to launch Zonehaven, according to fire chief Randy Royal. It's currently in place in states like California, Oregon, and Washington. 

The city’s “COS Ready” campaign calls on citizens to take three steps to prepare for an emergency:

  1. Sign up for alerts on Peak Alerts, a targeted phone notification system that tells citizens what they need to know in an emergency.
  2. Know your zone in the Zonehaven system. Citizens can go to the Zonehaven AWARE website to find what zone they live in.
  3. Make a plan to keep family and pets safe, and to know what items to have ready in the case of an evacuation. 

In an emergency, officials will send notifications through the Peak Alerts system, as well as through social media and traditional media outlets. Each zone can have specific instructions depending on the nature of the emergency. 

It takes citizens being involved and engaged for the system to work, said Royal.

“If you look back on our last 10 years, Colorado has burned about 1.6 million acres and evacuated 120,000 people,” he said. “The good news is there’s only been seven deaths. The bad news is those seven deaths were because they did not evacuate when given the order to evacuate.”

Mayor John Suthers said personal responsibility is paramount when it comes to emergency situations.

“Responding to an emergency is not just the job of our public safety professionals, it’s also the job of all of us as citizens,” he said. “We’re not all going to jump on a brush rig or climb a ladder. But we can all help by being prepared.”

The Zonehaven AWARE site is now live and residents can find their zone here.