Galveston Hosts Conference For Disaster Response Across Southeast Texas

Emergency medical responders from at least 20 counties around Houston are gathered today in Galveston to learn the newest response techniques. While good equipment, like ambulances and helicopters does help, the best response begins with coordination.

The SouthEast Texas Regional Advisory Council works to break down medical walls and coordinate first responders in an emergency.

For instance, the Council deployed what’s known as an “ambulance bus” during the Bastrop wild fires last year.

Although it wasn’t used to evacuate any nursing homes, the bus became a mobile treatment center for the firefighters.

Darrell Pile is CEO of the Council.

He says one topic discussed at this year’s conference is a new method to prevent ambulances from simply rushing over to a nearby disaster.

“There’s a new initiative called Ambulance Operations Response Plan which is now a very organized way to be able to deploy 300 or more ambulances — maybe its 100 ambulances — to a ‘no-notice event.’ That can include an explosion in the Ship Channel; it could include an airplane crash out in a rural area. But this needs to be done in an organized way so that it’s not chaotic.”

One of the seminars at the conference taught people what to do during an “active shooter event,” like the movie theater shooting in Colorado.

“They gave a simple rule: run, hide or fight, but do not just give in. Do not stay in place: it’s too easy to be a victim. The shooter is looking for victims, don’t be a victim. Do something to help yourself: run, hide or fight.”

The Southeast Council is a non-profit, one of 22 spread across Texas.

They were set up by the state Legislature twenty years ago, to facilitate voluntary cooperation among hospitals and other trauma providers.

Pile says the council for the Houston region now has a national reputation for its work, and leaders from other states have come to Galveston to learn more about how to react in an emergency.

Bio photo of Carrie Feibel

Carrie Feibel

Health & Science Reporter

Carrie Feibel is KUHF's health and science reporter. She comes to Houston Public Radio after ten years as a print reporter...