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Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2017 Vol. 64 No. 7

Texas Parks and Wildlife in Emergency Management

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People sometimes ask, "What does Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) have to do with emergency management?" The answer is: a whole lot! As frequently as this is asked, though, they typically only ask once – after all, seeing is believing. Whether it's relocating evacuees into state parks or Texas Game Wardens responding to disaster scenes, the agency has much to offer.

TPWD has 551 Game Wardens located throughout the state. Each warden is a commissioned officer with an assigned four wheel drive vehicle and specialized safety gear. Their responsibilities include:

  • Conservation enforcement
  • Public safety
  • Search and rescue

Game Wardens have the ability to reform their organizational structure and move to different locations with little notice. They also operate a fleet of 380 boats ranging from kayaks to 65' offshore vessels. Over 104 members of the team are specially trained for swift water rescue. The team also has a helicopter with hoist capability and various other fixed wing aircrafts. There are a number of specialty teams including a dive team, a search and rescue team, and a boat accident reconstruction team.

Some examples of deployments and activities include:

  • From May 2015 – January 2017, Texas Game Wardens conducted approximately 1,800 rescues and evacuations relating to flooding, wildfires, and winter storms.
  • In fiscal year 2016, Game Wardens responded to disasters in 108 counties.
  • Following Hurricane Katrina, 111 Texas Game Wardens responded to New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Hundreds of Texas Game Wardens were on the front lines during the West Fertilizer Plant explosion, Hurricane Rita, Hurricane Ike, Wimberley Floods, and much more.

A Texas Game Warden is stationed at the State Operations Center (SOC) during activations as a member of the Emergency Management Council. Wardens are also frequently stationed in state disaster districts for access and services. Additionally, state park managers work with local emergency management coordinators to provide areas for equipment staging or even evacuee residency.

Regardless of the situation, there is an energized, well trained, and thoroughly equipped group of professionals standing by to serve you in times of need.

Michael Mitchell
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

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