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In the News

CAPCOG builds resiliency into 9-1-1 infrastructure

Monday, May 23, 2016

Construction should begin by the end of the year on the installation of a secondary, or backup, 9-1-1 fiber-optic network for 23 of CAPCOG’s 27 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) locations where 9-1-1 calls are received. The additional network will allow PSAPs to continue to answer 9-1-1 calls if a network outage occurs instead of the calls being rerouted to another PSAP or call center. The calls are never in jeopardy of not being answered, according to CAPCOG’s Emergency Communications Director Gregg Obuch, but when a call is rerouted it doesn’t carry with it the address and map of the caller. “We really want the location information of that caller in case the call gets dropped before we get a responder to the site.”

In early April, the CAPCOG Executive Committee, in its capacity as the Capital Area Emergency Communications District board, approved the $7 million project to install fiber lines on different routes to the 23 PSAP locations.  While the district maintains 31 PSAPs, four are located at the Combined Transportation, Emergency & Communications Center and two at CAPCOG’s offices. The remaining four PSAPs — Lee, Fayette, and Blanco counties’ and Marble Falls’ — need an alternative solution to fiber lines to provide a secondary network, such as installing radio towers and using microwaves. CAPCOG continues to work on identifying a secondary network solution for the remaining sites.

The backup network has been a priority for the last two years; often outages occur due to construction sites cutting fiber or even network maintenance – the network is owned by AT&T and, while they try to be responsive to these events, it still means 9-1-1 calls may be disrupted, said Obuch. The first phase of the project addressing 23 PSAPs will be completed in three years.

> Read about the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.
> Learn about the Capital Area Emergency Communications District.

Text-to-9-1-1 coming to region

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

CAPCOG expects cellphone users will be able to text 9-1-1 in case of an emergency by this October and perhaps earlier depending on when the wireless carriers enable this feature. Regional agencies in the ten-county region are partnering to roll out a text-to-9-1-1 educational outreach campaign as telecommunicators and cellphone network providers prepare to bring the emergency communications service to the region.

Because text-to-9-1-1 is rolled out by each cellphone network provider, the companies can activate the service at different times. To limit confusion, CAPCOG only will announce text-to-9-1-1’s availability in a community when the four major cellphone network providers have activated it. The COG has planned a phased approach to test text-to-9-1-1. Hays, Travis and Williamson counties will be in the first implementation group, which could have text-to-9-1-1 by August or September. Group 2 — Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette and Lee counties — and Group 3 — Blanco, Burnet and Llano counties — will follow. Text-to-9-1-1 should be available by either September or October and October or November respectively.

Emergency telecommunicators will begin training to respond to text messages in May. While the services will be new, telecommunicators are already familiar with communicating to people using text based systems. The interface for responding to emergency text is nearly identical to the telecommunications teletype writer interface used to communicate with the hearing impaired.

> Read more about text-to-9-1-1.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.

CAPCOG and AACOG air quality committees discuss regional issues

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Travis County Judge, Sarah Eckhardt, and San Antonio Council Member, Ron Nirenberg, lead the first ever joint-meeting between the Capital Area Clean Air Coalition and the Alamo Area Air Improvement Resources Executive Committee. The group discussed strategies to keep the two major metro areas within the EPA’s NAAQS.

CAPCOG’s Clean Air Coalition (CAC) and Alamo Area Council of Governments’ (AACOG’s) Air Improvement Resources (AIR) Executive Committee, the committees representing the two largest U.S. cities not currently burdened with an EPA air quality nonattainment designation, held their first-ever joint meeting to discuss strategies for keeping the cities and their metro areas in compliance with EPA’s new National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) on April 29. The committees consist of elected officials from city and county governments that participate in regional air quality planning efforts, and are chaired by Travis County Judge, Sarah Eckhardt, and San Antonio Council Member, Ron Nirenberg, respectively.

Eckhardt opened the meeting and recognized its significance noting, “a unified front on these issues is very powerful” and went on to lead the discussion joined by Nirenberg about the linkages between the two regions and the benefits of collaborating. San Marcos Mayor Daniel Guerrero added that his city is “squarely in between” the two regions and impacted by what happens in each of them, so the effort to work together is “monumental and historic.” Each region has proactively implemented measures to control air pollution, to create awareness of the issue, and to conduct air quality research and planning to guide future strategies that will prevent the EPA designation and the transportation and economic development challenges that accompany it. The joint committees unanimously approved a resolution directed to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and EPA seeking flexibility with implementing the 2015 Ozone NAAQS with regard to geographic area, type of classification, consideration of ozone measurement uncertainty as well as interstate and intrastate impacts.

The CAC and AIR Executive Committee each represent years of leadership in innovative regional air quality planning efforts. The CAC started in 2002 and has implemented four voluntary regional air quality plans, including the 1-Hour Ozone Flex Program in 2002, a Clean Air Action Plan and Early Action Compact State Implementation Plan (SIP) in 2004, the 8-Hour Ozone Flex Plan in 2008, and, most recently, an Ozone Advance Program Action Plan in 2013. The AIR Executive Committee was formed even earlier, in 1997, shortly after the state established the Near-Nonattainment Area grant program to support regional air quality planning efforts in areas that had ozone problems but had not yet been designated nonattainment. The AIR Executive Committee also adopted a Clean Air Action Plan and participated in an Early Action Compact SIP in 2004, and is also participating in EPA’s Ozone Advance Program. Both committees have had success in helping their respective metro areas narrowly avoid nonattainment designations for the 1997 and 2008 Ozone NAAQS, the 2015 Ozone NAAQS poses new challenges for the regions.

The committees agreed to start meeting twice a year in order to facilitate future collaboration and cooperation. The next meeting was set tentatively for November which will afford an opportunity to discuss legislative issues, including state funding for the Near Nonattainment planning work carried out by AACOG and CAPCOG.

> Find more information on CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.
> Learn about the AACOG's Natural Resources Department.

Austin, Don’t Rush day encourages drivers to carpool, use a flex schedule or telecommute

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Source: City of Austin

Mayor Steve Adler has declared Wednesday, May 11, Austin, Don’t Rush, and is asking that, during rush hours Wednesday, Austinites choose any transportation option other than driving alone to participate in a one-day challenge to reduce traffic and air pollution. 

The long-term goal of Austin, Don’t Rush, day is to show people that it isn’t difficult to occasionally choose not to drive alone at peak hours so they might begin to make that choice one or two days a week.

The one-day challenge is an effort to reduce traffic in the Austin area and reduce exhaust in the air. It suggests that people carpool, bus, walk or bike to work in an effort to keep single-occupancy vehicles off the road.

> Learn more about Austin, Don’t Rush.
> Discover tips on how to participate in Austin, Don’t Rush.
> Read about CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG celebrates Older Americans Month

Monday, May 09, 2016

Older individuals in the CAPCOG region are blazing the way for the future by advocating for themselves, their peers and communities; making our region a better place to live.

CAPCOG proclaimed participation in Older Americans Month by adopting May as a month to honor and celebrate the efforts of the more than 322,000 residents who are 60 or older and live in the region. CAPCOG recognizes the value of inclusion and support in assisting older adults to successfully contribute to our communities.

The national observance of Older Americans Month is led by the Administration for Community Living. This year’s theme, “Blaze a Trail,” emphasizes the ways older adults are reinventing themselves by taking charge of their health, engaging their communities, and blazing a trail for positive impact on the lives of others.

CAPCOG encourages communities throughout the region to participate in Older Americans Month by:

  • Promoting and engaging in activities, wellness and social involvement,
  • Emphasizing in-home and community-based services that support independent living, and
  • Ensuring communities can benefit from the contribution and experience of older adults.

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) supports older individuals by assisting them in accessing in-home and community-based services. AAACAP will participate in area events including health fairs, caregiver events and the local May Fest. Contact AAACAP for more information, to volunteer, or to report on the ways older individuals are blazing trails and making a difference in your community at (888) 622-9111 ext. 6062.

> Learn more about AAACAP.
> Discover ways to participate in Older Americans Month.

Experts address caregiving at annual conference

Friday, May 06, 2016

Family caregivers engage in a wide-range of activities every day to support their family members who need assistance. According to Pew Research Center, 33 percent of adult caregivers are now turning to technology to help support their caregiving tasks.

A Caregivers Hope, a third annual conference taking place May 21, will connect family caregivers with area resources and four healthcare experts who will share the benefits of using technology to assist in providing care. The event also will focus on how to recognize, avoid and lessen caregiver stress.

Dr. Mark Carlson will give the conference’s keynote speech addressing effective communication with doctors to ensure a better understanding of medical issues. He will be followed by Dr. Norma Perez, Dr. Natasha Dewald, and Dr. Bruce Wayne Meleski, who will discuss caregiver stress, signs to look for and how to avoid it; in-home technology; technology for untreated hearing loss; and technology to aid in sleeping.

A Caregiver’s Hope is a special opportunity to learn about new tools to support family caregivers. The event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., May 21 at 1921 Lohmans Crossing, Suite 100 in Lakeway.

> Register for the conference.
> Learn more about AAACAP.

Elected officials can learn emergency management roles

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Newly elected county judges and mayors may be surprised to learn they are the leading authority for emergency management at the local level when a disaster occurs, according to Texas law. CAPCOG will conduct a Texas Division of Emergency Management workshop from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 26, so elected and appointed officials can be better prepared when a disaster strikes their cities and counties.

This workshop will provide an overview to the officials about their roles and how they can contribute to the process of planning, mitigation and recovery. “The first action during a disaster might be calling in aid from the State which the county judge would need to do if it’s not a delegated action to the emergency management coordinator,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG’s Homeland Security director.

The course also highlights: the local, state, and federal organization for emergency management; the local emergency management functions; and more.

Elected officials who attend the workshop at CAPCOG’s offices can qualify for continuing education credits to meet state education requirements or the Texas Municipal League’s Leadership Program.

> Register for the workshop.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.
 

GIS data helps clear debris from Hays County rivers

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Finding and clearing debris left by the Memorial Day and October floods from the Blanco, Little Blanco and San Marcos rivers that stretch throughout Hays County is a massive undertaking still underway. Efforts to locate debris alone could have taken months as the three riverbeds span about 58 miles throughout the county, but a visual survey of the riverbanks lasted only three days after the county deployed GIS techniques.

Using GIS data and aerial ortho- and oblique imagery, the Hays County GIS Department saved the county personnel time and lowered the cost of locating debris. The effort aided the county and FEMA’s Private Property Removal Program (PPRP) in spotting more than 7,000 points of debris on 600 parcels of river adjacent property. Debris found during the GIS survey included mostly fallen trees, but vehicles and several areas of exposed pipelines were also discovered.

“The best method of assessing the big picture is from aerial evaluations without having to get onto private properties, and it is much less treacherous for those doing the assessment,” said Hays County Judge Bert Cobb. “Aerial views of the affected areas are the safest and most cost-effective method currently available to preserve property rights and get the necessary information needed to comply with the demands of several agencies and authorities.”

Days after the October flood occurred the county attempted a boots-on-the-ground survey for debris in the riverbeds. But because of the large area, the number of private properties with in it, and the size of the floods events, the survey proved challenging. The Memorial Day flood, the worst of the two events, was so significant in size thousands of trees were ripped out, broken or bent along the Blanco River. It is estimated that the flood damaged or destroyed 12,000 trees county wide. October’s flood added more damage and moved debris further down the riverbeds.
About 40 county employees participated in the on the ground survey. The survey worked well in urban areas, where property was close to the street, said Steve Floyd, Hays County GIS and 911 Addressing program manager who participated in the survey. Employees could talk to people from the street and sometimes even see into riverbeds. In rural areas, gaining access to property was rare and notes were sometimes left on gates at the end of mile long driveways.

Ending the ground survey, the county pursued aerial imagery options that allowed for a detailed and procedural visual inspection of the disaster areas. To meet a FEMA deadline, the county quickly needed planes in the air to capture the events as they were. As a consistent participant in CAPCOG’s GeoMap program, Hays County already had aerial imagery from before the flood events. To consider new imagery options, Floyd contacted CAPCOG’s GIS Program Manager, Craig Eissler. Eissler helped coordinate a suitable solution that met the county’s timeframe and budget demands. Within two weeks, flights captured images along the Blanco River and portions of the Little Blanco and San Marcos rivers.

In January, the Hays County GIS staff began using new 6-inch resolution images to review and map debris piles within the rivers’ 10-year floodplain. The four-person staff used the orthoimagery catalog in the ArcMap data view on one monitor and the oblique viewer on a second monitor. The views were synchronized to pan at the same time. After three days of viewing, the staff identified debris piles on about 600 parcels and sent a list of properties to the debris removal contractor. In many instances, the GIS staff created a single point to represent clusters of debris.

One challenge faced by the GIS staff during the scanning process included identifying fallen trees at the base of steep bluffs obscured by shadows in the ortho views. Another challenge was sighting fallen trees not clearly visible through the densely overlapping limbs of still vertical trees, but the oblique images made both visible.

The staff also discovered areas of severe riverbank erosion exposing segments of pipelines. Some segments included active natural gas pipelines, up to 30-inches in diameter. In two other places, inactive or empty segments of 12.75-inch diameter pipelines were discovered. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality informed the county the two lines were purged and capped years ago.

Since the GIS staff’s review of the riverbanks, many landowners have granted access to the county’s debris removal contractor. As of Feb. 22, 2016 about 2,000 cubic yards of vegetative debris was hauled from private property and about 3,000 cubic yards of debris was removed from public rights-of-way. However, no estimates have been made for the amount burned by property owners.

TDA hosts workshop, webinar for small and microenterprise fund

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Source: Texas Department of Agriculture

The Texas Department of Agriculture will conduct a workshop and a webinar for communities interested in applying for grant funds to support small businesses and microenterprises in their jurisdictions.

A Small and Microenterprise Revolving Loan Fund (SMRF) grant workshop will be held at 10 a.m., Tuesday, May 3, at 1700 Congress Avenue in Austin. The webinar on the same topic will be at 2 p.m., Thursday, June 9.

> Register for the grant workshop.
> Get the link for the webinar.

SMRF provides funds for rural communities to invest in new or existing small businesses and microenterprises. In cooperation with a qualified, nonprofit development organization, SMRF monies are loaned to local small businesses and microenterprises to support job creation and retention activity for predominately low and moderate income persons. Once the contractual job creation or retention requirements are satisfied, the contract is monitored for compliance and closed by TDA.

Eligible applicants are non-entitlement local governments, incorporated cities and counties not participating or designated as eligible to participate in the entitlement portion of the federal Community Development Block Grant Program. Non-entitlement cities that are not participating in urban county programs through existing participation agreements are eligible applicants unless the city’s population counts toward the urban county CDBG allocation.

> Learn more about the SMFR grant.
> Go to TDA’s websites. 
> Read about the CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Division.

Local seniors need advocates

Monday, April 18, 2016

Passionate advocates can volunteer to help seniors in their local community by becoming a certified volunteer ombudsman with the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP). Ombudsmen provide older persons who reside in nursing and assisted living facilities a voice about their quality of life and the care they receive when they can no longer do it for themselves or are too afraid to do so.

As a program of CAPCOG, AAACAP ombudsmen serve about 250 nursing and assisted living facilities in the 10-county region. Volunteer ombudsmen play a key role in ensuring the well-being of those living in facilities as many residents have no relatives or regular visitors, and no one to act on their behalf. Family members with a loved one who resides in a care facility also need ombudsmen to help navigate the process necessary to achieve change and improve the care of their loved ones.

Volunteer ombudsmen are certified and specially trained to advocate for residents’ rights and quality of care by visiting and observing  residents’ care at long-term care facilities. Volunteer ombudsmen, working with AAACAP staff ombudsmen, identify and help resolve complaints. They also educate residents, families, and care-facility staff on maintaining the health, safety, and welfare of residents. Ombudsman services are free and confidential.

No prior experience is required to be a volunteer ombudsman, but they must be at least 18. AAACAP provides the required training to become a volunteer ombudsman. Seniors in your area need you.

> Contact Pete Moreno, managing lead ombudsman.
> Learn more about the ombudsman program.

CAPCOG approves Text-to-9-1-1 with October deadline

Thursday, April 14, 2016

CAPCOG’s Capital Area Emergency Communications District board approved the deployment of Text-to-9-1-1 for the 10-county region in its meeting this week; the action triggers notice to the wireless carriers who then have six months to provide the service.

Often the service is made available sooner than six months, according to Gregg Obuch, CAPCOG Emergency Communications Director, but it must be working by October.

Watch for the launch of the Text-to-9-1-1 educational campaign in  late summer.

> Read more about Text-to-9-1-1
> Learn about the CAPCOG Emergency Communications Division.
 

CAPCOG prioritizes homeland security grants

Monday, April 11, 2016

The CAPCOG Executive Committee approved the prioritized list of all 56 Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP) applications from throughout the region at its March meeting, but the funding being allocated to the 10-county area will only fund the first 13 projects. While $7 million of projects were submitted, the expected allocation at the time of the meeting was $1.77 million.

The process for reviewing applications is led by four subcommittees working under the Homeland Security Task Force that focus on preparedness, response, communications, and public health. Projects that received the highest prioritizations included purchases for rescue and response equipment, school safety kits, a remote automated weather station, bomb robots, and funding for community emergency response teams.

It was recommended that the $4.7 million of emergency communication projects focused on radio interoperability be sent to the Capital Area Emergency Communications District board and its strategic advisory committee for consideration. With decreasing HSGP regional funds, this source is no longer viable for many of these radio communication projects, CAPCOG Executive Director Betty Voights suggested. The CAECD will look at these once a regional plan is completed and recommended by the CAECD committee.

Subsequent to the Executive Committee’s approval of the grants prioritization, CAPCOG received notice the region would receive $300,000 less than the anticipated $1.77 million. According to new information from the Texas Office of the Governor to which all projects are finalized and contracted, CAPCOG anticipates  about $1.49 million in grant funds.

> Learn about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.
 

Telecommunicators nationally recognized

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

CAPCOG, as the lead agency for regional emergency communications working through the Capital Area Emergency Communications District, urges all local governments to recognize the 700 9-1-1 telecommunicators for their unwavering service to the 10-county region. In March, CAPCOG’s Executive Committee proclaimed April 10-16 National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week to honor local telecommunicators throughout the 10-county region.

The nationally recognized week celebrates and honors 9-1-1 call takers and their important role as the first, first responder. By providing 24/7 service, telecommunicators help save lives, apprehend criminal suspects, and protect property and people. Other emergency service personnel and municipal and county officials will show their appreciation for their local 9-1-1 call takers throughout the week by hosting an array of activities and events just for the public safety telecommunicators.

Because 9-1-1 telecommunicators are a vital link between first responders and their communities, CAPCOG encourages all local governments to honor their telecommunicators by signing proclamations or resolutions and celebrating this week in April so citizens also understand the value of the telecommunicators’ role in public safety.

> Read the CAPCOG Executive Committee resolution for National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week.
> Read the State proclaimation for National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Emergency Communication Division.

CJAC to rank criminal justice grants

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The CAPCOG Criminal Justice Advisory Committee will hold two meetings to receive presentations from organizations that submitted for a 2017 Office of the Governor’s, Criminal Justice Division grant.

The meetings are scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 29 and 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 30 in the CAPCOG Pecan Room, 6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 165, in Austin.

Participating organizations will be contacted about presentation times, but a schedule of the presentations has also been released.

> Review the Criminal Justice grant presentation schedule.
> Read more about the Criminal Justice grant process.

CAPCOG ships GeoMap 2015

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

GeoMap Program partners in 2015 can expect their 6- and 12-inch resolution orthoimagery any day. CAPCOG received data in late February, and is distributing it to the partner organizations.

The GeoMap Program provides crucial planning data that assists organizations with a variety of projects such as appraisals, growth management, conservation, local development and more. The GeoMap data release also means it is available for purchase by non-participating entities such as engineering and development firms.

> Purchase GeoMap 2015 data.

The GeoMap Program is an annual cooperative-purchasing effort that provides GIS base map data to many local governments. The program has saved more than $9 million since 2002 by minimizing potential duplicative efforts and receiving large volume discounts.

The 2016 GeoMap Program work is currently underway and the leaf-off orthoimagery acquisition is complete. CAPCOG expects to deliver the 2016 data this fall. It’s also time to prepare and budget for GeoMap 2017. The first call for 2017 projects will be in late March.

> Learn more about the upcoming 2017 GeoMap Program project.
> Discover the CAPCOG GIS Program.

TDHCA takes comments on Amended 2016 One-Year Action Plan

Friday, March 11, 2016
Source: Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) started a 30-day public comment period for the Amended 2016 State of Texas Consolidated Plan: One-Year Action Plan on March 7, 2016. Comments will be accepted until 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

TDHCA, Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA), and Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) prepared the plan in accordance with 24 CFR §91.320. TDHCA coordinates the preparation of the State of Texas Consolidated Plan documents. The plan covers the State's administration of the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) by TDA, the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Program (HOPWA) by DSHS, and the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program and the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program by TDHCA.

The Plan reflects the intended uses of funds received by the State of Texas from HUD for Program Year 2016. The Program Year begins on Feb. 1, 2016, and ends on Jan. 31, 2017. The plan also illustrates the State's strategies in addressing the priority needs and specific goals and objectives identified in the 2015-2019 State of Texas Consolidated Plan.

Based on updated HUD guidance, TDHCA has amended the plan to include a change in allocation amounts for all programs from estimated to final 2016 allocations; updates the HOME Method of Distribution; updates the definition of Chronically Homeless for ESG; and the addition of contingency provision language to the Citizen Participation Plan for estimated and actual allocation amounts for future years.

Anyone may submit comments on the plan in written form by mail to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, Housing Resource Center, P.O. Box 13941, Austin, TX 78711-3941 or by fax to 512-475-0070.

> Submit comments by email to info@tdhca.state.tx.us.
> Go to the TDHCA Public Comment Center to access the plan.

AAACAP director headlines caregiving conference

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area Director, Jennifer Scott, will deliver a keynote speech about practical tips for caregivers who care for a person with  Alzheimer’s or other related dementia during Alzheimer’s Texas and Riverbend Church’s symposium - GPS, a Road Map for Caring for Aging Family Members.

“Learning about how the disease affects the person’s abilities is the key to being able to understand why the person struggles to complete the most basic tasks each day and struggles to follow directions of the caregiver,” Scott said. Her presentation will provide information on making the caregiving experience better for caregivers and their loved ones.

The conference will be from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 12 at Riverbend Church Fellowship Hall in Austin.

Other speakers include Dr. Dewayne Nash, who will discuss Alzheimer's research and his connection with it; Pastor Reg Larkin, minister and counselor, who will discuss faith, celebration and grief in Caregiving; and Mary Koffend, owner of Accountable Aging, who will discuss Medicare, Medicaid, and Medigap.

> Register for the conference.
> Discover AAACAP.

Excited Delirium course stresses recognition of condition

Monday, March 07, 2016

Incidents of excited delirium create a number of challenges for peace officers, correctional officers, emergency medical personnel, and dispatchers as they respond to the substance induced medical condition. A March 25 Regional Law Enforcement Academy (RLEA) course, Excited Delirium, will educate public safety personnel on the best practices for recognizing, responding, and treating a subject with excited delirium.

“The (Excited Delirium) condition itself is always changing,” said Doug Wheless, the Lieutenant over the Medical Department in the Williamson County Jail, who is teaching the course. “There are always new examples of incidents, and the technology, practices and legal response behind the methods used to handle excited delirium incidents are always changing, too. This course will be beneficial to everyone in the public safety field.”

One of the first challenges public safety officers face is recognizing the symptoms of excited delirium and distinguishing it from other medical and mental conditions. People suffering from the condition can become violent, paranoid, appear to have superhuman strength and can suffer from asphyxia and hyperthermia. A subject in this state often removes their clothes, becomes aggressive to objects — especially glass, hides, thrashes in restraints and can cause further harm to themselves and others.

Similar side effects can be found in people suffering from schizophrenia and even strokes. By the end of the course, students will understand the differences between multiple ailments, so they can react appropriately.

“You don’t want to treat everyone like a drug addict that is acting out of control,” Wheless said. “You need to recognize that this is a medical emergency first.”

Excited Delirium Course Details

Course Time: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., March 25, 2016
Location: Mesquite Conference Room
CAPCOG Training Center
6800 Burleson Road, Building 310
Austin, TX 78744
Number of TCOLE CEUs: 8 Hours
> Register for the course
Registration Deadline: March 18, 2016

The violent and delirious nature of the subject’s condition also poses a challenge for those responding to the incidents. Officers often have to use force to subdue a subject, which can exacerbate the condition. The condition itself can be fatal, but this course teaches officers how to reduce that risk by using proper, specialized restraining methods and administering basic medical response so the subject can be transported safely to an emergency room for treatment. Each year there are between 250 to 350 in-custody deaths related to excited delirium incidents; this course aims to prevent those fatalities.

“This training teaches officers to recognize this condition as quickly as possible and have emergency medical services respond as quickly as possible while still protecting the subject, others and the officer,” said Randy Holmes, RLEA director.

An increase in the use of drugs that cause excited delirium such as K2, spice, bath salts, methamphetamine and cocaine combined with the subject’s bizarre behavior and officer response has caused many of these incidents to garner national media attention. Officers enrolled in this course will learn the importance of properly documenting these incidents to accurately portray the subject’s state and the officer’s response.

“The course teaches the safest way to handle a difficult, no win situation,” Wheless said. “Excited delirium is something that is not going to go away, and it is going to get worse and worse. We have to have a setup protocol that is defensible in a court of law.”

Wheless’ Excited Delirium course is backed by the American College of Emergency Physicians.

> Find other RLEA courses.
> Discover RLEA.

Lake Travis center provides regional hazardous waste options

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

A household hazardous waste facility in western Travis County has created a regional solution to costly annual collection events. The facility is helping six communities properly dispose of hazardous waste while reducing disposal cost, eliminating long wait times for residents, providing more collection times and deterring harmful illegal dumping.

The Lake Travis Regional Re-use and Recycling Center (LTRRRC) opened for its first household hazardous waste collection event on June 10, 2015. At that event, residents from 95 area households visited the facility to dispose of household hazardous waste. They dropped off 1,795 pounds of paint, 204 pounds of pesticides, 450 pounds of flammable solids and many other items. Two other events, one in September and one in December, experienced similar participation. The center is opened quarterly for the residents living in the cities of Lakeway and Bee Cave, The Village of the Hills, the Hurst Creek and Lakeway municipal utility districts and the Travis County Water Control and Improvement District No. 17.

“Participation from the community is going very well,” said Julie Oakley, Lakeway finance director, who helped start the facility. “We have been able to handle the flow of citizens coming to the center. The community has been very happy with the service, and we are accomplishing our goals.”

By increasing the frequency of collection events, the facility gives more residents greater access to proper disposal methods for chemicals and products that are harmful to people and the environment.

Before the center opened, the six communities participated in annual events with an attendance so abundant that cars and trucks stretched a mile long on Ranch-to-Market 620; sometimes residents were turned away.  And, instead of residents storing harmful chemicals for a year waiting for a collection event, this allows routine disposal.

Ken May, CAPCOG Regional Services Director, explained that a 2012-13 CAPCOG solid waste grant helped offset the six communities’ cost for opening the facility. The grant supported its initial construction, employee training and equipment purchases. LTRRRC met a number of the Regional Solid Waste Management Plan goals by encouraging household hazardous waste collection, alternatives to managing special types of waste and creation of a regional permanent facility.

CAPCOG solid waste grant funds have continued to support annual household hazardous waste events throughout the region, May added, and resident participation has continued to grow at such events which is great for disposal efforts but has caused many collections to exceed their budgets.

Because the LTRRRC has conducted more routine collections, planning budgets have become more consistent. The facility saves money because staff bundles the materials instead of a contractor. Contracting regularly scheduled shipping disposal trips and the ability to re-use certain items like latex paint also saves money.

Three more collection events at the facility are currently scheduled for fiscal year 2016 — March 2, June 1, and Sept. 7. The center is located at 3207 Neidhardt Drive, behind Lake Travis Fire Rescue Station 601.

> Learn more about the Lake Travis Regional Re-use and Recycling Center.
> Discover the CAPCOG Solid Waste Planning Program.
> Learn about the CAPCOG Solid Waste Grant Program.

The LTRRRC will accept: 

  • Household products — cleaning products, drain cleaners, oven cleaning solvents, degreasers, polishers, pool chemicals, household batteries, mercury thermometers, gas grill propane tanks; 
  • Paint products — latex and oil-based paints, spray paints, preservatives, strippers, etc.; or, 
  • Automotive products — antifreeze, car batteries, oil, oil filters, transmission fluid, brake fluid, etc. 
  • Accepted materials must come in their original containers for transport. 

The center will not take: 

  • Asbestos products — including linoleum tiles containing asbestos from older homes; 
  • Industrial waste — anything from a business; 
  • Medical waste — needles, prescriptions, etc.; 
  • Ammunition or explosives — fireworks, dynamite, etc.; 
  • Radioactive waste — smoke detectors, etc.; 
  • Compressed gas cylinders — except for gas grill propane tanks which are accepted; 
  • Tires; 
  • Appliances — small or large; or, 
  • Technology products — computers, printers, televisions, speakers, surround sound, other electronic equipment.

CAPCOG plans cybersecurity training

Monday, February 22, 2016

An assessment of how well critical communication systems and their support infrastructure will withstand cyberattacks is currently underway. The information will help improve cybersecurity preparedness for emergency managers and emergency communication directors by identifying cybersecurity gaps and facilitating future planning and training.

“Understanding your vulnerabilities and protecting against them builds resiliency and ensures systems continue to work despite a cyberattack,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG Homeland Security director.

Several cities and counties in the CAPCOG region recently completed a voluntary cybersecurity survey offered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. A contractor, hired with U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant funds, will evaluate the survey results and provide the participating entities with greater insight about their cybersecurity emergency communication gaps. The survey results also will lay the foundation for workshops and several training exercises for communities region wide.

The workshop and first tabletop exercise are scheduled to take place in March 2016. A final report will give future direction on establishing plans throughout the region to prevent cyberattacks and aid in response and recovery efforts if critical communication systems are attacked.

> Read more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

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