Special Report Part Two: Is the Concho Valley Ready for the next big disaster?

Local News

In the midst of disaster, there are steps in palce to mitigate potential safety problems for citizens.

Emergency management coordinator, Jim Evans has the perfect anology of what occurs during the initial response.

“As a kid, did you ever kick an an ant hill. You remember it’s all chaotic.”

As the first services to be inundated would be dispatch and 9-1-1, Jim says that disaster action plans are in place in case the “worst case scenario” ever occurs. 

At the inital response, Chief Brian Dun with the San Angelo Fire Department say that the city has “eight stations with 179 classified firefighters and paramedics. Everyone that works in the San Angelo Fire Department is a licensed paramedic”.

Chief Dunn also says that the department has five front line ambulances with a sixth one that should be in service within the next month.

If a disaster is severe enough, the Incident System would be activated. The headquarters for such an event would be in the Emergency Operations Center in the Emergency Management building at Mathis Field. 

The massive room is filled with several chairs and conference style tables with four overhead projectors, access to cable television and internet, several phone outlets, and sub-sonconference rooms exterior of the room. 

Jim Evans would be the liason interconnecting different emergency agencies if a large scale disaster was to occur. 

Whether a disaster is manmade or natural, we have to keep in mind the potential for mass casualties and fatalities. 

Jim Evans says that one of the sections of the Emergency Operations Center has a Medical Operations Center, which coordinates information with the local and regional hosipitals. 

If hospitals become overwhelmed with potential victims, they would be transported to hospitals in other cities, such as Midland/Odessa, Abilene, and Lubbock. 

Individuals within the with the Medical Operations Center would be responsible for tracking patients and hospitals they go to so they could relay that information to loved ones. 

In terms of having a plan for yourself and your loved ones, Jim says that it is essential to have that discussion with your family.

Since a disaster would cause many agencies to be working at the same time, communication is key to get resources where they are needed. Jim says that we do not want resources that are not going to be used. It would create a “disaster within a disaster”. 

Communication is key to get resources where they are needed. 

In the Emergency Operations Center, there is a poster that says, “If we shake hands before a disaster, we don’t have to point fingers afterwards.”

It takes a team effort between the general public and emergency officials to move past a crisis. 

While we cannot fully plan or predict every possible disaster. Being self-aware would make the disaster recovery efforts all the more smoother. 

Click Here to view Part One: Is the Concho Valley Ready for the next big disaster?

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