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A WORD FROM THE MAYOR
On April 27, the city of Pearsall hosted a tabletop disaster training drill at the Frio County Conference Room.
These drills bring key management personnel and emergency responders together in a room to discuss their roles should a disaster occur. The key is for all agencies to know as much as possible about each other’s role and have a basic understanding of available assets to provide support in such a disaster.
The Frio County judge, emergency coordinator, county commissioners, multiple staff from the sheriff’s office and jail, as well as the county road and bridge department attended. Two local Department of Public Safety officers, the TxDOT maintenance supervisor, Frio Regional Hospital staff, PISD Superintendent and school resource officer, myself, the city manager, municipal judge, and representatives from the Pearsall Volunteer Fire Department also attended. Dilley’s city manager and utility director were there too.
The drill was a class 4 tornado hitting Pearsall at 11:20 a.m., damaging or destroying numerous homes, road signs, electric poles, damaging Pearsall City Hall, the courthouse and a good portion of the jail. The fictitious event provided multiple scenarios to work through including multiple fatalities and causalities.
Agencies discussed their actions, enabling others to see all the moving parts in relation to the disaster. The county, city and hospital would call in all available workers and officers to work. Our fire department and surrounding agencies would take an immediate role in securing all damaged buildings and setting up safe zones, the sheriff’s office would secure inmates and tend to injuries. Air Flight and EMS would call in mutual aid from surrounding areas to help move victims. City and county workers would clear roadways and assist with additional manpower, where needed. The county judge, mayor, county emergency coordinator, city manager and city public information officer would establish an off-site command center to provide assistance to first responders and coordinate incoming local, state and national aid. Downed communication lines would have to be re-established, but it’s reassuring to know there are secondary and tertiary sources of communication available to us. Administrators at the school and hospital will have communication lines open with the command center to stay abreast of fluid situations. It is essential to provide accurate information to the public. The city, county and school all have mass communication abilities to notify citizens. Citizens should sign up for this service if they haven’t already in case of an emergency, but for other important public notices such as weather.
There were many key takeaways from the training. Citizens, it is very important to follow the communications from officials as crisis situations can become more volatile as onlookers flood the scene and compound the problem.
Meeting and walking through these exercises has real value. Despite the variables and aspects of these functions, what I witnessed was a room full of folks dedicated to service in times of calm or chaos. It’s reassuring to know the huge amount of resources, (local, state and federal) available to help us.
Families should also have their own emergency plans. Food, water, shelter and security are essential but it’s prudent to have supplies in your home to maintain your family for a few days if the worst were to happen. Have a plan and go over it. Snow-vid showed us how quickly things can stary from the norm. Planning builds confidence and that displaces fear and panic and those are two of the worst ingredients to add to a disaster.
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