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Welcome to the home of FEAT. We are the not-for-profit committee of the Colorado Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs, Inc. (CoA4WDCi), which assists emergency services personnel during times of crisis in the Denver Metro area.

 

FEAT is also providing emergency services to Jefferson County’s (Jeffco - OEM). This service will not be used during snow emergencies, but could include moving supplies and personnel to firefighters using our 4wheel drive vehicles or assisting in floods, or other services in which JeffCo may need help.

 

HISTORY

 

FEAT’S story actually began during one of the worst storms in recent memory, Christmas Eve, 1982. During this storm the city called for volunteer 4x4 drivers and their vehicles to help people who found themselves in trouble. The storm hit so hard, so fast, and the snow was so deep that people were stranded at work, or unable to get to a doctor. Essential personnel (doctors, nurses, firemen, policemen) found themselves unable to report to work.

 

The Office of Emergency Preparedness hurriedly set up a system where volunteer four-wheelers could call in and leave their number and the people in need would call in and leave their number. Operators would then attempt to link up the two.

It was a massive undertaking. Considering the haste in which it was implemented, the system worked surprisingly well. But the system was also awkward, slow to initiate, and generated a lot of chaos.

 

TODAY

 

FEAT is a program of the Colorado Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, Inc. (CoA4WDCI). FEAT volunteers need not be a member of an association club but have a 4x4 vehicle and have a strong desire to provide a public assistance to Denver’s emergency services personnel. The FEAT volunteer must sign-up using an application available on the CoA4WDCI’s web site, www.hightrails.org. They must have a high-clearance 4x4 vehicle, be at least 21 years old, have a valid drivers license and no DUI or felony convictions.

 

We have a newly signed 3-year Statement of Understanding (SOU) with Denver’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM). The OEM is providing 3 positions in the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) for FEAT dispatchers; each position includes 4 telephone lines, phone headsets, and a laptop computer.

 

We do not transport critical or injured patients; nor does FEAT have the capability to transport non-essential employees. (i.e. those not necessary to prevent a danger to health or safety). The FEAT organization does not run a taxi service or provide convenience transportation to the general public.

 

There is no charge for assistance from FEAT. Members are strictly volunteers who furnish their vehicles, gas, and time to help the community. They may take donations for FEAT operations but are prohibited from receiving personal gratuities.

 

ACTIVATION

 

When the local weather forecast is for 6 inches or more of snowfall I send a FEAT ALERT email to our 100 plus volunteer drivers telling them to stand-by and make sure their 4x4 is full of gas, their cell phone is charged, they have paper and pencil (pens have a tendency to freeze), bring water, extra boots and pants, tire chains etc. When the OEM opens the EOC and they activate FEAT, our dispatchers’ head for the OEM (located in the basement of the City and County building) and we start contacting drivers.

 

During the March 2003 massive storm (over 90 inches of snow in the foothills and 3 and 4 foot snowfalls in the Denver metro area), Al Fink and myself spent four 16-hour days as FEAT dispatchers. During this period we had 90 volunteer drivers that provided over 200 trips to 190 persons plus hauling material for the Red Cross to set up an emergency shelter center at East High school. Besides transporting police, fire, doctors and nurses, we hauled health care people to care for the quadriplegic patients that needed urine bags emptied and were able to pick-up and deliver several critical medical prescriptions for snow-bound seniors. Al and I literally had information on drivers and riders written on scrap pieces of paper and often had to consult with each other to find a driver to match a rider’s request. It was almost organized chaos!!

 

During the post review with OEM I approached them with the idea of adding our FEAT drivers into the city’s software tracking system. Since then, the city has developed a special software package just for FEAT dispatchers. It will be ready for use this snow season.

Upon activation by the OEM, I input the driver database (on an Excel spreadsheet) into the new FEAT software system and we start calling drivers to ascertain their status. When we receive a call for a ride, we input the rider’s information, i.e., name, address, phone numbers, and ZIP. The computer will identify the nearest driver using ZIP codes or a zone to match with the rider request. (I have the metro are divided into 6 zones and within each zone I have identified all zip codes.) We then call the driver and give them the information. The driver will call the rider and they determine a pick-up time and get directions, if necessary.

 

When the ride is completed the driver calls the dispatcher; they are requested to either stay in-place in case we need them for another ride (i.e., shift changes) or assign them another rider.

 

This is now a real-time process that keeps track of all drivers and requests are at all times and we have a positive control over our dispatching.

 

In June of every year, we have an evaluation with the OEM personnel. We may refine and adjust the process as necessary. We anticipate extending our SOU every 3 years.

 

OTHER FEATs

 

The Trailridge Runners 4x4 Club of Longmont have an SOU with the United Presbyterian Hospital in Longmont to provide FEAT services.

 

June 2007 - FEAT is now providing services to Colorado Springs.

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