Obituary: Russell C. Jennings |

Obituary: Russell C. Jennings

Russell C. Jennings, 86, passed away Aug. 20, 2015, at his home in Firth, Neb. He served in the Navy during WW II and the Korean War. He lived in Grand County from 1979 until 2009. Survivors include his wife Sally; son John Jennings(Trista); daughter Phyllis Johnson; seven grandchildren, Ryan Jennings, Connor Jennings, Colin Jennings, Tennessee Anderson, Wyatt Johnson, Rhett Jennings and Hayden Jennings; one great-granddaughter Kierra Bunker; one brother Charles Drury(Elsie). A memorial has been established to Project Sanctuary PO Box 1563, Granby, CO 80446. The family will have a memorial celebration in Grand County at a later date.

Weather stops Ride the Rockies cyclists on Berthoud Pass

More than 500 cyclists abandoned their bicycles for buses when they were caught in inclement weather atop Berthoud Pass during the Ride the Rockies event. Temperatures had dropped to around 34 degrees with light snow and 15 mph winds on Berthoud Pass around 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 9, prompting the State Patrol to close the Grand County side of the pass to descending cyclists, said Ray Jennings, Grand County EMS chief and director of the Grand County Office of Emergency Management. Jennings upgraded the situation to a disaster around 4:20 p.m. "I declared the area a disaster for the several hundred people out there, to set our system into motion to start rescuing people," Jennings said. Grand County EMS, the Office of Emergency Management, East Grand Fire Protection District, Winter Park-Fraser Police, Granby Police, Grand County Sheriffs, Grand County Search and Rescue, State Patrol and organizations from Clear Creak County all joined in the effort to transport stranded bikers from the top of the pass to Winter Park, Jennings said. Private vehicles were also used to bring bikers down from the pass. "I'm very proud of our professionals that protect Grand County on a daily basis," Jennings said. "We made this situation, a bad situation, into a good situation very quickly." The Ryder Bus Company from Winter Park supplied seven buses to help bring riders down. Fraser-resident Keith Sanders came over the pass around 2 p.m. It was his 15th Ride the Rockies. "It's the coldest I've ever been in my life," said Sanders. One rider was hospitalized for hypothermia, Jennings said. Ride the Rockies said in a statement that it had officially ended the day's riding around 4 p.m. "As we all know, Colorado weather is unpredictable," the statement said. "To all of our participants and sponsors, we recognize your dedication to Ride The Rockies as we look forward to the remainder of the tour as planned. We anticipate a great week of riding with you all, and ask for your continued patience as we focus on ensuring the safety of RTR participants." All of the riders had been safely transported by around 6:30 p.m., Jennings said. Festivities in Winter Park also came to a halt as foul weather moved in. The concert and event Taste of Winter Park were stopped around 7 p.m. due to poor conditions. "I was still very happy," said Lance Gutersohn, one of the event's sponsors. "For never doing it before, they put a lot of effort into it." Though turnout was lower than expected, the community's response to the emergency made the event a success, said Catherine Ross, executive director of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. "It's more about making sure these people felt that we cared about them, and I can't even begin to say how very much I'm humbled by all of those other agencies and how they stepped up to the plate," Ross said. Ride the Rockies, in its 29th year, is a cycling tour put on that showcases Rocky Mountain cycling at its best. Each year, 2,000 cyclists explore a new route through Colorado's High Country. It is put on by the Denver Post. "It's a lot of fun because of the people you meet and the diversity," Sanders said. "And you can basically cycle with no worries in a safe environment." Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.

Fraser receptive to housing EMS at 200 Eisenhower

Grand County EMS will likely be the new tenants for 200 Eisenhower, a piece of property that has been sitting empty in the town of Fraser for quite some time. Chief Ray Jennings of Grand County EMS told the Fraser Board of Trustees Wednesday night that he would like to use the property to house a couple of his employees so they can be closer to the ambulances when an emergency arises. The ambulance, Jennings explained, is parked at the East Grand Fire District building; Grand County EMS personnel are currently housed in old town Fraser ” on the west side of the tracks. That means the EMS crew has to cross the tracks and pick up the ambulance before they can assist someone in need. “Two years ago we had a person go into cardiac arrest one block from where the ambulance crew (was staying),” Jennings said. “They crew had to leave the apartment, drive six minutes to get the ambulance, and then drive 6 minutes back … “My biggest goal is to give life a chance. We weren’t able to give that person a chance because it took us 12 minutes to get to that person.” The 200 Eisenhower property is only a short-term solution, Jennings noted. In the future, Grand County EMS is looking into purchasing the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District’s building from the town once the district’s personnel move into its new facility at the future recreation center. EMS could then also house its ambulance in the old fire house behind the district’s current office, if it decides to purchase that property in the future. Jennings said he hopes the 200 Eisenhower property will help his personnel improve response time and therefore save more lives and minimize injuries. Jennings asked that the town rent the property to Grand County EMS for free, only charging for utilities. Trustees generally were receptive to Jenning’s proposal. Mayor Pro Tem Steve Sumrall said he does not oppose the idea and that it would be a “great asset,” but he said he would like more time to think it over. He agreed with a few other trustees that perhaps the county should be asked to give some input as well. Town Clerk Lu Berger stated in a memo that the election process is “well underway,” and Mayor Fran Cook and Samuel Talbert have submitted nomination petitions for mayor. Trustees Joyce Burford, Eric Hoyhtya and Vesta Shapiro, along with Scotty Brent and Kim Linin, have submitted nomination petitions for the trustee positions. Absentee ballots will be available beginning March 21. They can be mailed out to voters or picked up at town hall. In other business: – The board passed a resolution stating its support of the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District’s recreation center, and the donation of roughly 4.8 acres to the district for the center, which is being donated by Grand Park. – Animal Control Officer Marilyn Teverbaugh is now officially an employee of the Fraser/Winter Park Police Department.

Van careens off Berthoud Pass, injuring eight

Packed snow caused a vehicle carrying a Texas family of eight to careen off of the road at the top of Berthoud Pass on Saturday, injuring passengers. Having slid off of the roadway about a mile from the top of Berthoud Pass in Clear Creek County at mile marker 243, the vehicle descended about 30 feet before it was stopped by a tree, according to Grand County Emergency Medical Services Chief Ray Jennings. The vehicle remained upright, he said. Rescuers closed Berthoud to travel around 4:30 p.m. while emergency responders used ropes to pull injured passengers on back boards up the steep embankment. Most of the passengers suffered minor head and back injuries, according to Jennings. Grand EMS transported all eight individuals to St. Anthony’s Hospital, Denver, in three ambulances. They reportedly have since been released. Before the accident, the family had been caravanning eastbound with one other vehicle. As many as 40 rescuers from a tri-county area worked to get the family to safety. Among agencies involved were Grand County EMS, Gilpin EMS, East Grand Fire, Clear Creek Sheriff’s Office, Gilpin Sheriff, Fraser-Winter Park Police, CDOT and Colorado State Patrol officers.

Grand County EMS mourns loss of captain

Longer than a year after a Grand County EMS vehicle rolled two-and-a-half times on Red Dirt Hill, the driver of the vehicle, former EMS Captain Brian Schimpf, died following a surgery related to injuries sustained from the accident. After Schimpf underwent surgery on Wednesday, Nov. 20, he was placed on life support due to complications with the surgery, according to Grand County EMS Chief Ray Jennings. Schimpf never regained consciousness and died on Saturday, Nov. 23. He was 33 years old. The tragic death of Schimpf marks the first death to occur in the line of duty for the agency since Grand County EMS began operating in 1970. "He was a wonderful young man, one of those bright and shining stars that everyone gravitated to," Jennings said. "It is very sad to see someone so young and alive not be here anymore." Schimpf, originally from Minnesota, had been working for Grand County EMS for less than a year when he was returning from a structure fire at Beaver Village around 2 a.m. on Sept. 7, 2012. He was travelling westbound on Highway 40 on Red Dirt Hill when the accident occurred. "Red Dirt Hill gets pretty slick when it is wet," Jennings said. Locals know that this section of road is dangerous and accident prone, he said. "He was new to the area and didn't have the experience." After the accident, Schimpf was able to locate a radio and call for help. Schimpf suffered numerous injuries from the accident including a mild head injury, broken ribs, broken tibia and fibula, broken collarbone, and spinal injuries. Schimpf went into surgery on Wednesday in relation to the spinal injuries. Grand County EMS held fundraisers for Schimpf, which saw a large amount of involvement from the public, according to Jennings. One of Schimpf's attributes that will be sorely missed by Grand County EMS will be Schimpf's dedication to the craft and to public safety and helping others, Jennings said. "He always helped and wanted to teach the younger ones about the craft and will be sorely missed because he touched so many lives," Jennings said. The family of Schimpf will hold a memorial for both Schimpf and his grandfather, who passed away on Veteran's Day this year, in Minnesota. Grand County EMS will hold a memorial for Schimpf, date and time yet to be set. Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334

Another successful 9Health Fair

The 9Health Fair in Granby held on Saturday, April 30 was very successful, said Ray Jennings, EMS/OEM Chief of Grand County EMS Station 1. The Rotary Club of Granby coordinated all the non-medical volunteers and EMS coordinated all the medical volunteers. All services were free except blood work and colon screenings. This year 433 citizens in Grand County came to the Granby clinic. "It was a very successful year," said Jennings. Last year 460 people participated. Middle Park High School seniors who participate in the Pre-Hospitalization class (EMT class) volunteered in the Blood Pressure room on Saturday as part of their class. At the end of the semester students can take the National Registry of Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam. When they pass they become registered EMTs in the State of Colorado. This is the 11th year of the program. Over 130 students have gone through the program, said Jennings. The Blood Draw room had 18 volunteers including nurses, EMTs, paramedics, and phlebotomy techs from Middle Park Medical Center; all who volunteered their time on Saturday. "All physicians including eye doctors, pharmacists, and dentists volunteered their time. Our community helping our community," Jennings said. "The most important thing you can do is take care of your health to have a quality of life." The flow of the participants has been perfected and there were no waiting lines, particularly since fasting is no longer required. The Kremmling fair is set for May 14 at the K-8 school in Kremmling. The Fraser 9Health Fair is set to take place in the fall. To find more information on each fair, visit

A path to success

For high school seniors, who stand on the cusp of adulthood, choosing a career is among the most daunting decisions they must make. Deciding what they want to do with their lives is no easy task, especially when one considers that most students must undertake significant levels of personal debt to finance advanced educations. For students in Grand County who are considering the medical field or work as a first responder or one of any number of related fields the Grand County Emergency Medical Services (GCEMS) Department offers a truly unique learning opportunity. Each year, beginning in the fall and ending in the spring in conjunction with local school calendars GCEMS offers an Emergency Medical Technician High School Course for seniors in Grand County. The program offers local seniors the option of taking the EMT High School Course as part of their regular class schedule. The classes qualify as credit through the school districts in Grand County but that's not what makes the course so special. After completing the EMT High School Course students can take the National Registry test for EMTs and if they pass become certified EMTs. "In Grand County what we are constantly trying to do is find mechanisms that help our youth find career paths," said GCEMS Chief Ray Jennings. "We offer this at the high schools and kids come out with job ready skills." The department's Education Captain Audrey Jennings administers the program. Jennings oversees two instructors from the department who lead most of the class work; former MPHS graduate Katharyn Woodard and Paramedic Matt Lyons. Woodard was a graduate of the EMT High School Course while attending school in East Grand. After completing her high school education Woodard went on to receive her bachelor's degree from Mesa State before returning to GCEMS and working as an instructor among other duties. She is preparing to attend Physician Assistant School in the near future. Woodard is an exemplar of what GCEMS is trying to achieve with the EMT High School Course but she is far from the only example. All told roughly 130 students from East and West Grand have completed the course since the mid-aughts with an additional 10 students taking the course this year. Of those about 20 students have come back to work for the department over the years. The course Over the duration of the course students are instructed in a variety medical emergencies and how to manage such situations and treat patients. Education Captain Jennings outlined a few of the broad categories students study including trauma emergency, controlling patient airways, ambulance operation, scene management, patient assessment and more. "It is adult learning," Jennings said. "We treat the students like they are adults. We educate them that way and it helps prepare them for how they will learn in college." The students train with the real equipment EMTs use in the field. They also undergo clinical training, working 16 hours on an ambulance and doing two eight-hour shifts with ER technicians at St. Anthony's in Lakewood over the course of the year. "Our program is based off of scenario training programs similar to the military," said Chief Jennings. "It is how you become proficient under stress." The EMT High School Course is somewhat of a continuation of the adult EMT courses offered by GCEMS each summer. The High School Course follows the same curriculum and has the same standards and requirements for students as adults. History of the program The genesis of the program started in the early 2000s and was initially conceived as an after school program. Education Captain Jennings explained the initial trials of the course as an after school program did not see much use, owing to the busy schedules of senior students who would take the class. GCEMS went back to the drawing board and came up with a new plan. Beginning in 2006 the EMT High School Course became a formal class offered to seniors at Middle Park High School (MPHS) and West Grand High School (WGHS) as well as home schooled students and those who attend local Christian schools. The course begins in the fall and runs throughout the school year. The class is open to any senior students but officials from GCEMS recommend students interested in taking the course take anatomy, medical terminology or any other related courses offered to students as juniors to better prepare themselves for the rigorous course work. Because anyone taking the National Registry test for EMTs must be 18 the course offered by GCEMS is only available to senior students. Chief Jennings especially recommends the course for any students interested in joining the medical profession. Along with technical instruction the course can also serve as a lesson in what students do not want to do in terms of a career. Ooccasionally students taking the course who had their hearts set on the medical professional realize the work is not really what they are looking for, said Chief Jennings. "Sometimes kids realize from the classes that this isn't what they want to do," Chief Jennings said. There is a $1,200 fee for the adult EMT class but the cost of the class is waived for the students as part of the commitment to the program from Grand County and the Board of County Commissioners. According to Jennings Grand County EMS is the only ambulance service in the entire state of Colorado that offers such a program. "The best thing about this is watching young men and young women have their confidence grow and build; watching their knowledge grow and build," Chief Jennings said. "It is obviously a strong time commitment and a commitment from the County Commissioners. That team effort has allowed us to have great success, build an overall education program and help our high schoolers with their success in life."

Panthers Ambushed in Aurora

The Middle Park High School Football team fell to the Machebeuf Buffaloes, 42-7, last Saturday night at Aurora Public School Stadium. The score was not at all indicative of the Panther’s effort. “We gave them really short fields to work with in the first half, and things snowballed on us quickly,” said Head Coach Troy Schmidt. Two miscues on punts in the first half gave the Buffaloes excellent field position to score on drives of less than 30 yards. Those misfortunes along with 2 interceptions and one return for a touchdown put the Panthers down 21-0 at half after outgaining Machebeuf on offense 113 yards to 89 yards. “Our youth showed in those mistakes, but our kids still battled and fought hard-I am proud of them,” said Schmidt. The opening kickoff of the second half was a disaster for Middle Park when a Machebeuf player was able to break out of a pile after mishandling and dropping the kickoff then regaining control for an 80 yard touchdown. After the avalanche of Panther miscues, the second half was a slug fest. The Panthers put together two long drives of 70+ yards. The first ended inside Machebeuf’s 10 yard line, but another miscue, this time a fumble thwarted the Panther’s scoring effort. The 2nd drive finally put the Panthers on the board with a 10 yard touchdown run by senior Marc Schmidt. “Our offensive line played well in the second half. Sophomore tackle and guards, Kane Hutchinson and Dillon Berger had great games,” said Schmidt, “and junior Sam Little played awesome for his first time at quarterback.” Machebeuf did answer with a drive of their own in the second half and also added another late TD after both teams had made substitutions. “The second half is the kind of game we expected to be in the whole time, unfortunately they were a good team that capitalized on every one of our mistakes.” Despite the lopsided score, Machebeuf only had a 45 yard edge in total yards 246 to 201 at the end of the game. Defensively, the Panthers were able to bottle up one of the state’s leading rushing attacks as Schmidt lead the way with 10 tackles, 2 quarterback sacks, 2 quarterback hurries, and a forced fumble. Sophomore linebackers Connor Jennings and Steven Kentfield added 10 tackles between them and Little also added 5 tackles and a pass defended. “The D-line did a great job and forced double teams all night which allowed our linebackers to limit a very potent running attack to less than 150 yards, and sophomore nose guard Cody Garrett did a great job with 5 tackles,” said Schmidt. On Thursday night, October 21st, the Panthers take on the Pinnacle Timberwolves at home in Granby at 6 p.m. The team would like to invite all East Grand law enforcement, firefighters, EMS, and military personnel to the game for recognition of their thankless efforts in our community! All members in uniform or with proper I.D. will get into the game for free and witness an exciting 2A Flatirons football game!

Former Grand County EMS employee sentenced in drug diversion case

A former Grand County Emergency Medical Services employee was sentenced to 90 days in jail in April after he was convicted of stealing drugs from EMS vehicles. Matthew Holmes pled guilty to four felonies and a misdemeanor as part of a plea deal and will serve four years of probation following his release from jail, according to court documents. As part of the deal, 14th Judicial District Attorney Brett Barkey dropped 13 additional charges against Holmes, all of which were felonies. The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment first alerted Grand County EMS to a possible case of drug diversion in 2013, according to previous interviews with EMS officials. The investigation was turned over to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations. Over the past few months, multiple calls requesting comment from CBI have gone unreturned. CDPHE, which certifies EMS providers, conducted its own investigation into the incident. "We were not able to identify anyone that was sickened or endangered by the incident," said CDPHE Spokesman Mark Salley. The incidents in question are alleged to have occurred between Nov. 1, 2012, and Dec. 19, 2013, according to court documents. Holmes was alleged to have stolen morphine and fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, from three different EMS vehicles, the criminal complaint states. Prosecutors then allege that Holmes replaced the drugs with "an imitation controlled substance." Holmes pled guilty to burglary, possession of a controlled substance, distribution of an imitation controlled substance and embezzlement of public property, all felonies, and one misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment. EMS adds safes, changes packaging In the wake of the case, Grand County EMS has made improvements to how it stores narcotics, said EMS Chief Ray Jennings. Before the incident, the department had already implemented a needleless system, Jennings said. "It helps to prevent either the provider or the patient from coming into contact with dirty needles or cross contamination situations," Jennings said. The department now stores narcotics in safes that can only be accessed by passcode and that log each entry. The department reviews the information each month and audits both the logs and medication quarterly, Jennings said. Narcotics are also packaged in a hardened device to prevent access to the drugs with a needle. Holmes was able to access narcotics using a needle because of the soft device they were packaged in, Jennings said. Jennings added that it's a constant cat and mouse game with drug diverters. "One of the things that we do know today is that there is a high number of healthcare providers across the spectrum that divert medications, and every time we find a new solution, there's always new problem," Jennings said. Grand County EMS benefitted from CBI and CDPHE's investigations and input, Jennings said. "I think the system is better than it was it was," Jennings said. "It was definitely a learning activity for us, and we've been very open about what we did." Still, the EMS industry could benefit from more avenues for providers to seek help if they have a drug problem, Jennings said. "The crux of it becomes is we're trying to make the system safe and we do have a safe system," Jennings said. "We're just trying to increase that security to keep honest people honest."

Grand County turns Kremmlings Pepsi Center into EMS headquarters

Kremmling, Colorado’s, former Pepsi Center warehouse will be the new West Grand home of the Grand County Emergency Medical Services along with several other county offices.Officials hope to have the building functional by the end of the year.The county bought the Pepsi Center for $495,000 last spring, said Grand County EMS Chief Ray Jennings.We could not afford to build that same building for that price, he said. We have been looking at areas in Kremmling for the last three years now. Weve been looking for a location so we could put the crew and the ambulance together.He said this is a good location at 10th and Eagle, near the highway. The building will also house offices for the Road & Bridge, Coroner, Search and Rescue, and Sheriff.It just became a great opportunity to provide more and better service to the community, Jennings said. Its helping a lot of county departments at the same time. The building is 160 feet long and 70 feet wide. It was built in the 1990s, and Pepsis addition in 2002 added 70 feet of wing space to the building. The company also laid concrete, and installed a chain link fence around western part of the building. The warehouse includes mostly storage capacity, and will require plans for an interior remodel and office area. Grand County Building Official Scott Penson will give a presentation about bids on the project to the county commissioners today. The building will allow at least two EMS employees and two ambulances to stay at the building 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The facility also could expand later.Four offices will run on the southwest end of the building. The west end will house the ambulance and coroner vehicles. EMS will take up a quarter to a third of the space, enough room for four EMS staff members to stay year-round. This will give them a place to cook, shower, and be ready for that next call to help, Jennings added.The building will allow EMS staff to respond immediately and take the ambulance to the patient, he said.Theres been a big need for that facility for six years, he said, so we could improve service. Keeping the ambulance indoors will also expand its life. EMS used to be a partially volunteer/ paid department, and is now a fully-paid department. Its been kind of a difficult getting the EMS staff and ambulance at same place, he said. EMS staff used to take a transport vehicle to the EMS, which took and extra three to five minutes. If somebodys not breathing, five minutes makes a big difference, Jennings said. The faster we can get there, the faster they can reduce pain and suffering. Katie Looby covers government and education for the Sky-Hi Daily News. You may reach her at 887-3334 ext. 19601 or