And if the National Weather Service were in fact predicting a major weather disaster in the Rio Grande Valley, getting people to safety is the number one priority. Today kicked off one of the largest mock disaster drills in the state.
“Mother Nature can throw a hell of a hurricane this way and the last thing we want is a fatality in this location.”
This is the largest scale mock drill of its kind. The Department of Public Safety’s Texas Division of Emergency Management are making sure they know what to do when a category 3 or stronger heads to the Rio Grande Valley.
The mission: save lives by transporting hundreds of thousands of people to safety by air.
For it to be a success, team work is key. The Department of Public Safety, the Texas National Guard, and federal agencies must work together. It all starts at the evacuee intake.
“If they arrive here together, chances are they’ll leave together. Everything needs to be greased and everybody needs to be on the same page and everybody needs to be rolling in the same direction.”
First, evacuees are given identification bands for their luggage, pets, and medical items such as wheelchairs or oxygen tanks. To make the process seamless, state issued ID’s are needed.
“If you don’t have one you need to go get one.”
Once scanned, evacuees are asked if they require medical care. If not they’re taken to a holding area for transport. If they’re in need of medical care, they’re taken to here. Where they’re evaluated and wait for transport. While waiting, evacuees can eat and hydrate. Once transport is ready, evacuees will load on buses. In this hanger, the wounded are headed toward a C-130 carrier plane. Col. Keith Williams is overseeing aircraft transport.
Anything that they’re bringing that they’re able to carry on a commercial airline like as if they were taking a vacation those are the only kinds of things that they can take on these aircraft as well. Col. Williams says, being so close to the border, he understands not everyone has proper documentation but to him the paperwork doesn’t stop the mission.
The training isn’t over once the evacuees are loaded on the plane.
Teams in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio are waiting for them to continue the training.