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A WORD FROM THE MAYOR
On Thursday, April 28, the city held a multi-agency disaster drill along the railroad tracks in Pearsall. The mock drill was a train/auto wreck that caused the train to derail. The train derailing resulted in an chemical car rupturing and spilling a toxic chemical as well as an oil tanker rupturing and spilling crude oil on the ground. Additionally, the train derailment took out a power pole and knocked power out to a large portion of the city. If you’re going to go, go big, was obviously the theme as this scenario painted a complex picture to challenge our responding units.
The event kicked off at 10 a.m. with Frio County Emergency Management Coordinator Ray Kallio calling in the mock emergency. Frio County Dispatch called out the emergency responders. Responding was Pearsall Police Department, Frio County Sheriff Deputies and Constables, Texas Highway Patrol, Allegiance Mobile Health (Frio County EMS) and the Pearsall Volunteer Fire Department. Providing support and also responding was the Pearsall ISD Police Department, Dilley Police Department, our neighboring Frio County Fire Departments and Frio County ESD 1. In a real emergency there are many others agencies that would be contacted for support, who would come to our assistance. Since this was a drill, these agencies were invited to be on hand and witness the event, which allowed some of the agencies to give positive pointers at various times during the drill.
Those in attendance to witness the mock disaster were folks from AEP, TCEQ, Texas Department of Health, Texas Department of Emergency Management, Union Pacific Railroad, Texas Department of Highways and Public Transportation, Lifeteam Air Evac (Air Life), Frio Regional Hospital, PISD, the San Antonio Food Bank, members of the local Pastor Alliance (The Bridge) and numerous local elected officials.
The city was able to provide some props, so EMS transported the auto/car crash victims to the hospital and the hospital was able to practice a large casualty event. City crews performed a mock clean up on the oil spill and the city’s hazardous material team held a mock exercise on the chemical spill. Police and city crews closed off impacted roads and activated our early warning citywide communication system known as Everbridge, in conjunction with Frio County’s early warning system, i-INFO. If you have not signed up for the Everbridge or i-INFO early notification system, please do by contacting Bianca Ortiz at the Annex Building to city hall or with Ray Kallio. The city rolled out its mobile incident command center to the site to provide for a wider range of communication and on-scene support.
After the drill, all agencies went to the Pearsall Civic Center and held an after action report, which allowed them to talk about their role in a disaster and list the assets they have available to support an emergency such as this. The value of working together and knowing what agencies can assist with what types of emergencies is very valuable. What is great about our state is there is so much help available, more than was even present at our drill. The American Red Cross, AACOG, the Blood Bank and many businesses have emergency response teams that can roll anywhere there is a need in our area.
Later this month, when Frio County’s Emergency Management members meet, we will go into more detail on what was good and where we need more work regarding an emergency. It’s hard to plan for every disaster, and have every contingency covered, but a community-wide drill has value to make sure we are doing everything in our power to preserve as much life and property as possible, when seconds count.
God Bless the City of Pearsall, the County of Frio, the State of Texas, the United States of America and You.
Ben T. Briscoe
Mayor of Pearsall