BLM California News.bytes 
News.bytes Extra, issue 558

Partners make it happen at the Imperial Sand Dunes

a man sits in a dune buggy
Chris McCuen, Commander of Colville Tribal Fire and Rescue, checks out the BLM Rescue buggy.  Photo: BLM

Keeping the crowds safe over a busy weekend like Thanksgiving requires extra help, and partner agencies like the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Forest Service and the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office stepped up to assist the Bureau of Land Management.  Visiting staff from the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (WA), were also on hand to assist BLM park rangers with requests for medical aid.  Bill Elliot, Public Safety Director, and Chris McCuen, both from the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (WA), were interested in learning more about how larger-scale events are managed through inter-agency agreements. 

While the tribe is well-versed and highly-trained in fire and rescue operations, a severe windstorm in July 2012 that decimated parts of the reservation and adjoining counties showed them they needed to expand their capabilities to include all-risk management of natural disasters.  “The tribe is highly trained in wildfire management, but that often isn’t as conducive to managing emergency medical service, evacuations or crowd control,” said Bill Elliot.  “We’re interested in learning about how inter-agency agreements and cooperation help manage the ‘people’ side of it.”  A former Border Patrol agent from Calexico, Elliot was familiar with the dunes and inter-agency efforts over busier weekends, so he brought his team down.  “We can get a lot of concentrated hands-on training in a short amount of time here,” he said. “We’d like to continue to have our people help staff these larger events.”

two men pose in front of a ranger station
Chris McCuen and Bill Elliot represent the Confederate Tribes of the Colville Reservation.  Photo: BLM

- Joya Szalwinski, Interpretive Park Ranger, BLM El Centro Field Office/Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, November 27, 2012)

BLM California News.bytes, issue 558 -- To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to: OR visit our News.bytes subscription page.