Message From The Chief
Officially, summer in the Northern Hemisphere began on June 21. Unofficially, summer started across much of the great state of Texas when several areas saw 100+ degrees by mid-May. I even heard cicadas by the first weekend in June. Let's not even consider the heat index, which pushes the temperature higher. But, summer means school is out, family vacations, and approaching holidays, so we'll be out by the millions, working and playing in the Texas sun.
Heat is the number one weather-related cause of death in the United States. As we head into the hottest time of year in Texas, it is important to be knowledgeable and prepare for the extreme heat. It is key to remember that elderly people (65 years and older), infants and children, and people with chronic medical conditions are most susceptible to heat stress.
If you are a guardian, primary caretaker of and know an elderly person or someone with access or functional needs, please make it a point to check in on them regularly throughout the summer months.
The easiest tips to follow are to stay inside during peak heat periods during the day and to stay hydrated.
There are many resources available to learn more about how to prepare and respond to the hot days ahead. Take the time now to learn as much as possible about how to prepare for the excessive heat.
EMERGENCY MEDICAL TASK FORCE
Preparedness occurs on many levels: for the individual, for families, for communities, and expands outward to larger regions. The Texas Emergency Medical Task Force (TXEMTF) program is in place to provide rapid coordinated responses during large-scale events. The TXEMTF program builds alternate care capacity with an acute care medical focus, including transport, surge staffing, and mobile medical units during mass-casualty events, large-scale disasters, or any event requiring augmenting the capabilities of the healthcare system.
The Texas Disaster Medical System (TDMS) facilitates planning and activation of Emergency Medical Resources during critical times. TDMS is supported by Texas' Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and receives guidance and recommendations from other steering committees.
The Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council (STRAC) is a non-profit organization consisting of 74 general and specialty hospitals, over 70 EMS agencies, numerous trauma and specific-issue centers, whose mission is to develop and plan response systems, with a vision towards being the model emergency healthcare system in the event of large-scale emergency conditions. Look at the STRAC calendar on almost any given week, and you will see that training is taking place (STRAC Calendar).
There are 8 EMTF regions in Texas, working together to be at the ready with personnel and resources. Some of these teams and resources include 13 AMBUSs (ambulance busses, capable of handling up to 20 stretchered patients), 5 Ambulance Strike Teams per region, Mobile Medical Units (deployable medical structures for up to 30+ patients), Medical Incident Support Teams, Registered Nurse Strike Teams, and Ambulance Staging Managers. This requires teamwork and training. STRAC is a key in facilitating this organization and implementation.
2018 has already seen completion of 8 EMTF courses since February, equating to 230 trained personnel; the number could be as high as 257 at the time this article is published. Texas may be considered the most disaster-prone state in the nation but will always seek to be number 1 when it comes to top notch preparedness.
Stay safe, stay informed and stay cool out there!
Chief W. Nim Kidd, MPA, CEM®, TEM®
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