Frees awarded ‘Emergency Manager of the Year’ for SLV

Courtesy photo David Frees (left) accepts the ‘Emergency Manager of the Year Award’ from Saguache County Board Chair, Tom McCracken, presented on behalf of the Colorado Emergency Management Association.

SAGUACHE — The Saguache County Board of Commissioners, on behalf of the Colorado Emergency Management Association (CEMA), recently presented David Frees with the 2022 “Emergency Manager of the Year Award” for the San Luis Valley region. This award and acknowledgment are important as support came from all of his peers and others that have worked with Frees.

Frees has served as the Saguache County Office of Emergency Management’s Deputy Director since 2020. In that time, Frees drastically improved the emergency management program for Saguache County and helped coordinate one of the most robust emergency management programs in the region, officials stated.

The Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s Field Manager, David Osborn, said, “Mr. Frees is a team player and robust community advocate. Saguache County was the new host for the Live Nation Multi-day Music Festival which included Headline Music Performers. This event was the single largest pre-planned incident ever experienced within the six-county San Luis Valley Region. Because of Mr. Frees’ intimate involvement in the planning and operational response to this event, we enjoyed excellent situational awareness that contributed significantly to the lessons learned and accomplishments. We would like to thank Mr. Frees for his professionalism, leadership, and strong emergency management support.”

Last year, Frees was also awarded the Colorado state-wide “Mike Gelski Award for Outstanding Volunteer Achievement” by CEMA.

Frees joined the Villa Grove-Bonanza Volunteer Fire Department in 2009 and currently serves as Captain and Department Training Officer. Frees has been a Team Leader and Technical Rope Rescue Technician with the Saguache County Search and Rescue Team since 2015. He has also been an Emergency Medical Technician, with the Northern Saguache County Ambulance District, since 2016. Frees graduated cum laude from Regis University of Denver with a bachelor’s in Biology/Chemistry. He also holds a master’s in Zoology; Lake and Stream Ecology from Arizona State University.

When Frees is not in a helicopter, an ambulance, or a firetruck, you can find him tending to the land at Thirsty Peak Ranch.

Frees’ contributions to his community and the field of emergency management have become a model for preparedness, response, and recovery efforts throughout Saguache County and the entire San Luis Valley region, officials stated.