In the News
Legislators to discuss priorities at General Assembly
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
The 85th Texas Legislature starts in January, but before it begins, State Legislators from the CAPCOG region will provide insight into the upcoming session at the CAPCOG General Assembly Meeting being held at 11:30 a.m., Dec. 14, 2016, at the Omni SouthPark Hotel, 4140 Governors Row in Austin. General Assembly Representatives also will elect the 2017 Executive Committee.
After the meeting, CAPCOG will offer an elected officials workshop covering the Texas Public Information and Open Meetings Acts. The workshop will provide an engaging training experience for newly elected officials, who require the training within 90 days of taking office. It also may serve as a valuable interactive update for veteran elected officials.
General Assembly Representatives can contact Mason Canales, CAPCOG member services coordinator, to receive a code for a complimentary lunch at the meeting or to attend the workshop for free.
TWDB seeks State Water Implementation Fund for Texas project applications
Wednesday, December 07, 2016
Source: Texas Water Development Board
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) opened the application period for the 2017 funding cycle of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) program, which will accommodate about $500 million for projects in 2017 State Water plan.
“The first two cycles of funding through the SWIFT program were extremely successful, with the TWDB financing approximately $1.6 billion in state water plan projects,” said TWDB Board Chairman Bech Bruun. “In fact, our first SWIFT transaction was announced as the winner of the Bond Buyer's 2016 Southwest Region Deal of the Year in part because of the groundbreaking nature of the program. We are pleased to continue providing communities with this dedicated funding source.”
The TWDB is considering an important change for this cycle—the increase of subsidies offered for rural and agricultural projects. Preliminary projections indicate a subsidy level of up to 50 percent for loans. This year’s cycle will provide non-rural entities with interest subsidies that range from 16 to 35 percent depending upon the length of the loan and type of project.
The two-page preliminary SWIFT Program applications are due Feb. 3, 2017, and may be submitted via the TWDB’s online application or by paper copy.
These applications provide information the TWDB needs to prioritize projects. Projects that receive priority for financial assistance will be invited to submit a full application, which will include a financial, legal, engineering, and environmental review.
Regional homeland security exercise educates response crews
Monday, December 05, 2016
More than 30 local, state, federal, and private business emergency response agencies conducted an all hazards training exercise in early November to deploy specialized teams and equipment used in regional disaster response. The three-day event, which occurred in Lee and Travis counties, worked to improve communications, enhance partnerships and reinforce command protocols between agencies.
“Lee County and everyone involved learned some valuable takeaways from the exercise, and we all will be expanding on what we learned to continue to improve our disaster response,” said Delynn Peschke, Lee County Emergency Management Coordinator. It was the first time for the county to participate in a large scale exercise so pooling resources such as Austin Fire Department and Williamson County Hazardous Materials Response Team to work alongside the county’s volunteer firefighters demonstrated a higher level of training experience. “Training like this is invaluable for knowing what resources are available and how to facilitate their response,” Peschke said. “It also helps build relationships that strengthen communication and cooperation with other local jurisdictions and state agencies.”
Lee County hosted sites for mock incidents for two of the three days the training occurred. At the El Dorado Chemical Co. fertilizer plant in Giddings, emergency crews simulated responses to an explosion, an unexploded bomb, a hostage situation, radiation leaks, and hazardous chemical leaks. Hazardous material and mass fatality response also was simulated at City Park in Lexington.
Every scenario the teams practiced could occur somewhere in the region, said Marty Herrin, Chief of Williamson County’s Hazardous Materials Response Team who planned the exercise. Fortunately in most cases, training events are the only times specialty equipment such as a toxic chemical monitor gets used. It is critical that public safety personnel train using this equipment so when it is needed they know how it works.
Lee County also tested CAPCOG’s regional notification system that alerts residents of emergencies through phone calls, text messages and emails. Within 36 minutes, the system called, emailed and texted enough people to reach 81 percent of the households in Lee County, 64 percent of those notifications were answered. The system only contacts residents who have landline phones and those who self-registered cellphones and email addresses at WarnCentralTexas.org. “The notification system worked very well,” Peschke said. “In a real event, it is beneficial to know how fast these alerts can go out. It would be our primary way of delivering information in a real emergency.” Residents throughout the CAPCOG region can register their cellphone numbers and email addresses at WarnCentralTexas.org.
CAPCOG has begun work on an after action report to provide greater insight on how emergency teams and command staff performed during the exercise. “The report will show us where we excelled and where our response can be improved,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG Homeland Security director. “Training for disasters is a never ending process because every situation is a little different no matter how much you plan.” A debriefing meeting will occur Dec. 16 at CAPCOG, and the after action report should be completed in January. It will then help local governments develop a plan to improve their response.
DPS, CAPCOG help policing agencies apply for NIBRS grant
Friday, December 02, 2016
More than $14 million is available through a state grant program to help Texas law enforcement agencies update their crime reporting system for submitting it to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). On Dec. 8, CAPCOG will host a National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) workshop where DPS staff will discuss the newer system’s benefits and how local agencies can apply for the grant’s funds.
The state has a goal for all local agencies to transition from the FBI’s Summary Reporting System (SRS) to the NIBRS by September 2019. NIBRS like its predecessor provides an aggregate tally of crimes, but it also helps derive circumstances and context for crimes. Crime reporting using NIBRS includes all offenses within a single incident and additional aspects about each event, such as location, time of day, and whether the incident was cleared.
During the first round of the grant program, the state awarded $1.8 million to Texas law enforcement agencies. The second application round opened Nov. 15, 2016 and will close Jan. 16, 2017.
CAPCOG puts accurate mapping in emergency responders’ palms
Monday, November 28, 2016
The CAPCOG region’s 9-1-1 County Addressing Coordinators are testing a brand new mobile application that lets emergency responders know they are responding to the correct location anywhere in the 10-county region. Developed by CAPCOG’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Program with guidance from its GIS Planning Council, the Emergency Locator Map gives first responders the same mapping information as 9-1-1 call takers see on their screens when receiving a call.
“We wanted the data to be consistent across the platforms, especially in this case where we have the first responders communicating with the call takers,” said Craig Eissler, CAPCOG GIS Program manager. “The data we are using for the Emergency Locator Map is the most authoritative 9-1-1 data available about the region.”
How first responders identify address locations differ from one local agency to another. In some cases, third-party mobile mapping applications are used while in others, they are reliant on printed map books. Both can be inaccurate and use outdated information, especially since commercial and residential growth is booming throughout the region. Often peace officers and emergency medical personnel manually draw new roadways and write street names in map books to update them, which may not be printed annually. The Emergency Locator Map uses CAPCOG’s 9-1-1 addressing and street centerline data which is updated monthly — adding new subdivisions, roadways and addresses routinely. “Going to the right location is paramount,” Eissler said also noting typing in the address on a smartphone could be faster than flipping pages of a book. “We are talking about emergency situations where lives and property could be at stake. Efficiency, accuracy, and consistency is what we’re trying to accomplish.”
CAPCOG has asked its stakeholders, including the 9-1-1 Addressing County Coordinators, the GIS Planning Council, and GIS and Maps User Group (a CAPCOG advisory committee and workgroup), to evaluate the application, provide quality assurance, and recommend possible enhancements. Once those improvements are made, first responders will be asked to test the mobile application in the field and provide real-world feedback. CAPCOG hopes to use the real-world feedback, so the Emergency Locator Map will become emergency responders’ first choice of methods to respond to a scene.
Craig Eissler, CAPCOG GIS program manager, explains how the Emergency Locator Map app works during a meeting with stakeholders in October.
Ozone impact analysis earns national honor
Monday, November 21, 2016
CAPCOG earned a National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) 2016 Innovation Award in October for evaluating the cost of economic development opportunities in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) if the area fails to meet national air quality ozone standards.
The project entitled “The Potential Costs of an Ozone Nonattainment Designation to Central Texas”, estimated the economic impact between $24 and $41 billion from 2018 through 2046 if this region’s ozone levels fell outside the EPA’s acceptable standards and triggered onerous regulatory consequences. CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program and the Planning and Economic Development Division collaborated on the project for which a final report was released in September 2015.
NADO, based in Washington, DC, promotes programs and policies that strengthen local governments, communities, and economies through regional cooperation, program delivery, and comprehensive strategies. Its Innovation Awards recognize regional development organizations and their partners for improving the economic and community competitiveness.
Chris Schreck, Planning and Economic director, and Andrew Hoekzema, Regional Services director, stand next to NADO Innovation Awards received by CAPCOG. Their work earned CAPCOG its 10th Innovation Award.
Hoekzema takes reins of Regional Services
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Andrew Hoekzema stepped into a new role as CAPCOG Regional Services Director Oct. 1. As the agency’s former Air Quality Program Manager, Hoekzema will continue to manage the air quality program, but also will supervise the solid waste program and other environmental and natural resource issues for the region.
Hoekzema joined CAPCOG’s Regional Services Division in 2010 as an air quality program specialist and was promoted to program manager in 2013. During his tenure, Hoekzema has increased the program’s profile and expanded the region’s air quality efforts, including serving on EPA’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee, presenting at the EPA’s 2015 International Emissions Inventory Conference, authoring an award-winning report on the potential economic costs of non-compliance with federal air quality standards, and securing an EPA Clean Air Excellence Award for the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition. Before joining CAPCOG, Hoekzema worked in the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Air Quality and Small Business and Environmental Assistance Divisions.
Kelly Claflin, a 9-year veteran of CAPCOG, also was promoted in October to Information Technology Services director. Claflin takes over as CAPCOG embarks on a 50,000-square-foot facility expansion/renovation for its offices, law enforcement academy, and regional 9-1-1 center and will oversee design and installation of all support systems for security, phones, IT, audio visual and training systems, and all digital equipment.
CJD announces $16 million available for policing agencies
Friday, November 11, 2016
Source: Office of the Governor's Criminal Justice Division
The Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division (CJD) will open two funding opportunities on Nov. 15, 2016 for law enforcement agencies — one for body cameras and digital video storage, and the other for upgrading crime reporting systems. The grant process will run concurrently closing Jan. 16, 2017.
This is the second round for the funding opportunities’ grant process and applications must be submitted through eGrants. While CJD will be making slight changes to the request for applications, interested agencies can review the previous year’s request.
About the grants
The Body Warn Camera Program will provide funding for cameras worn by frontline officers, digital video storage, and systems for the retrieval and service of the video and equipment. About $2.2 million is available through the Body Worn Camera program with a 20 percent match required for funding. Municipal police departments and county sheriff’s offices are eligible to apply. Agencies that received funding during the first round are eligible for second round funding, but preference may be given to first time applicants.
The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) Program will make about $14 million available to assist agencies in switching from the FBI’s Summary Reporting System (SRS) to the NIBRS. While SRS provides an aggregate monthly tally of crimes, NIBRS provides circumstances and context for crimes. Its reporting includes all offenses within a single incident and additional aspects about each event, such location, time of day, and whether the incident was cleared.
Costs associated with NIBRS and body worn cameras are not eligible through the Justice Assistance Grant Program or any other CJD funding source.
TCEQ extends bus grant application deadline
Wednesday, November 09, 2016
Source: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) Program extended the application deadline for the Texas Clean School Bus (TCSB) Program to 5 p.m. Dec. 15, 2016. Applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis.
More than $5.9 million in grant funds are available to cover the cost of retrofitting diesel-powered school buses with emission-reduction devices to reduce children’s exposure to diesel exhaust.
School buses remain the safest way to transport children, and their diesel engines are both durable and economical. However, the Texas Education Agency reports more than 40 percent of the school buses in local fleets are more than 10 years old. In the years since these vehicles were purchased, several advancements in vehicle and engine technology have helped reduce emissions from school buses.
The TCSB Program may make funding available to help school districts when purchasing and installing emissions reduction technologies such as diesel particulate filters, diesel oxidation catalysts, and crankcase filters. School districts located in designated counties also may qualify for funding to replace existing school buses with newer, lower-emitting buses through one of several grants from TERP.
Applications submitted using application forms from previous TCSB grant rounds will not be accepted. Eligible applicants must be a public school district or charter school in the state of Texas that operate diesel-powered school buses on a daily route to and from schools.
CAPCOG hosts first-ever Air Quality Awards ceremony
Tuesday, November 08, 2016
The Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) hosted its first ever Air Central Texas (ACT) Awards in San Marcos on Nov. 4, 2017 to celebrate organizations and individuals who have made significant contributions to regional air quality in Central Texas and to promote future action to support the goals of the region’s ongoing air quality planning efforts. Texas State Representative Donna Howard (Dist. 48 – Austin) delivered the keynote speech at the ceremony at which former Williamson County Precinct 4 Commissioner Ron Morrison, the Lone Star Clean Fuels Alliance (LSCFA), and Tom “Smitty” Smith from Public Citizen won awards.
Former Williamson County Precinct 4 Commissioner Ronald Morrison posthumously received the 2016 ACT Public Sector Award for his longtime service and leadership on the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition and the Clean Air Force of Central Texas. Capital Metro and the City of Cedar Park were also nominated for the Public Sector Award.
The LSCFA received the 2016 Air Central Texas Private/Nonprofit Sector Award for their role in cleaning the air through various projects such as migrating vehicles to alternative fuels, converting much of the booming landscaping industry in Texas to propane mowers, and development of alternative fuel infrastructure. Texas Lehigh Cement Company and the Beyond Coal campaign were also nominated for the Private/Nonprofit Sector Award.
Tom “Smitty” Smith received the 2016 Bill Gill Central Texas Air Quality Leadership Award for his work as the Director of Public Citizen’s Texas office since 1985, where he organized efforts that lead to the development of the renewable energy boom across Texas and the Texas Emission Reduction Program — both reduced air pollution in the Central Texas area and other parts of the state. This award is named in honor of CAPCOG’s former Air Quality Program Manager Bill Gill, who worked on air quality throughout his career and was instrumental in the establishment and success of the region’s air quality program. Former City of Austin and CAPCOG employee Fred Blood was also nominated for this award.
Voights leads Southwest Regional Executive Directors Association
Thursday, November 03, 2016
The Southwest Region Executive Directors Association (SWREDA) in October elected CAPCOG Executive Director Betty Voights as the chair of the association’s board of directors. SWREDA spans Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas and works to advance regional issues, to develop professional improvement activities and training, and to advocate for a regional approach to economic and community development planning.
As the SWREDA chair, Voights will help spearhead a cooperative initiative with the National Association of Development Organizations, an association that advocates for regional planning and development organization related issues, to provide comprehensive and practical best-practices training for emerging leaders and staff of economic development districts and regional planning organizations between 2016 and 2019.
Voights, who has served as CAPCOG’s Executive Director since 1996, also chairs the economic development committee for the National Association of Regional Councils and serves as a Texas Manufacturing Assistance Centers board member. She was the Director of Business Development under Governor George Bush prior to joining CAPCOG staff.
Data builds bridge to flood resiliency
Monday, October 24, 2016
Damage assessment data from the 2015 Memorial Day Flood was presented to city of San Marcos staff in September as part of CAPCOG’s project to analyze disaster impacts and plan for regional resiliency. CAPCOG staff plans to present information to the region’s governments affected by the disaster throughout the end of the calendar year. The project, funded by the Economic Development Administration, focuses on the use of damage assessment data to inform local governments’ efforts to mitigate the impacts of future flooding and disaster events.
The data came from a variety of sources including damage estimates from the Small Business Administration, FEMA, other state and federal agencies, and HAZUS — software that models flood events and estimates damages. Having the multiple source Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data can assist governments and residents in determining what homes and businesses may exist in future flood plains, what properties and their structures may suffer from significant repetitive losses, and when and where infrastructure improvements may be most economical for a resident, business owner or city.
Moving forward, CAPCOG will make the information available to planners as it works collaboratively with its member governments to research and create better flood resiliency plans.
Air quality outreach goes digital
Friday, October 21, 2016
CAPCOG launched a new online air quality campaign in September to help protect Central Texas residents from air pollution. While the region is in compliance with federal air quality standards, it can still have several days a year when air quality is still considered “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” The campaign includes a new “Air Central Texas” website, Facebook page, Twitter account, and electronic advertising designed to encourage residents to “Be Air Aware,” including tips on reducing emissions and exposure.
More than 1,000 residents visited the website in the last month, and CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program is routinely posting new air quality information on the social media accounts. CAPCOG expects to launch a Spanish-language version of the website in the next few weeks.
Bordie leads AAACAP with passion
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Taking the helm of the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP), a CAPCOG division, is completing a lifelong goal and dream for Patty Bordie. Her 30 year career of advocating for older adults on a local, regional and state level has been driven by her love for the age group, and now as the AAACAP director, she will continue her work at a higher capacity.
“I did my college internship at an (Area Agency on Aging), and right away I said that is where I want to be,” Bordie said. “AAACAP’s work really is a grassroots regional approach to meeting the needs of the community, and when I got into the field, there wasn’t a lot of people speaking up for older adults. I wanted to be someone who was.”
During her career, Bordie has provided advocacy, education and resources for older adults. From 1999 to 2008, she worked at AAACAP, and from 2008 to 2015, she worked for Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services. Bordie returned to CAPCOG in 2015 as AAACAP’s program manager for Care Coordination and Caregiver Support before her promotion in September.
Bordie wants to continue AAACAP’s great work but also looks forward to expanding the agency’s services by developing new programs and strengthening community partnerships to meet the needs of the growing population.
TCEQ grant available, CAPCOG funds application help
Monday, October 17, 2016
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is accepting applications for the Emission Reduction Incentive Grant (ERIG) program, which funds the upgrade or replacement of trucks and non-road equipment in order to accelerate the emission reduction benefits from newer, cleaner engines. CAPCOG will assist Clean Air Coalition (CAC) members in applying to the grant program.
The deadline to submit applications is 5 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.
This program is the largest source of NOX reductions within our region – even more than the vehicle inspection and maintenance programs in Travis and Williamson counties. It is also one of the most cost-effective air pollution control strategies available.
CAPCOG has contracted with Hazel Barbour, who is an expert in the program, to assist CAC members with applying for these grants. If would like to avail yourself of this assistance, contact her directly at 512-236-8498 or by email.
CAPCOG budgeted the contract to make about four hours of this assistance available to each CAC member for this grant opportunity. If your organization needs additional assistance, contact CAPCOG Regional Services Director, Andrew Hoekzema.
Austin-Round Rock area organizations have received significant funding from this program during the last two grant rounds. It is CAPCOG’s goal to help ensure the region gets as much funding assistance for these projects as possible.
Applications submitted from previous ERIG grant rounds will not be accepted.
Eligible CAPCOG counties include: Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties.
Grant application workshops and dealer trainings have been scheduled to provide an overview of the ERIG application process.
The ERIG program has several new changes this year. Please plan to attend a workshop to learn more about new program requirements and new grant application forms.
All workshops are free and no registration is required.
1:30-4 p.m., Monday, Nov. 7, 2016
TCEQ, Building F, Conference Room 2210
12100 Park 35 Circle
Austin, TX 78753
2-4:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 7, 2016
Longview Public Library, Moeschile Meeting Room
222 W. Cotton St.
Longview, TX 75601
1:30-4 p.m., Monday, Nov. 7, 2016
TCEQ Region 6, El Paso, Video-Teleconference Room
401 E. Franklin Ave, Ste. 560
El Paso, TX 79901-1212
2-5 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016
TCEQ Region 14, Conference Room 1003
Carlos Truan Natural Resources Center
6300 Ocean Dr., #5839
Corpus Christi, TX 78412
Dealer workshop: 9:30 a.m.-noon, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016
Applicant: 1:30- 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016
Alamo Area Council of Governments, Al Notzon Board Room
San Antonio, TX 78217
Dealer: 9:30 a.m.-noon, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016
Applicant: 1:30-4:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 14, 2016
En Espanol: 5:30 -7:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 14, 2016
Tracy Gee Community Center, Room AR-1
3599 Westcenter Drive
Houston, TX 77042
1:30-4:30 p.m.,Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016
Southeast Regional Planning Commission, Transportation Conference Room
2210 Eastex Freeway
Beaumont, TX 77703
8:30 a.m.-noon and 1:30-4:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016
North Central Texas Council of Governments, Regional Forum Room
616 Six Flags Drive
Arlington, TX 76011
State of the Region: use momentum to tackle challenges!
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
The 2016 State of the Region presentation compared popular conceptions against realities to convey the region’s strengths and discuss challenging issues in the areas of population growth, job growth, transportation, land use, development and more.
“We have a lot of positive momentum in our region,” said CAPCOG Planning and Economic Development Director, Chris Schreck presenting the 2016 State of the Region. “The challenge for us is to identify how to best use that momentum to tackle some of the challenges that still remain.”
The region’s continual growth is a healthy economic statistic as it “zoomed past 2 million,” and shows no signs of slowing with about 50,000 people coming to the area per year, Schreck said. According to popular narrative, the majority of the new residents are young, millennial-hipsters, but more accurately those new residents could be “hipster-grandmothers”, he said. The largest growing demographic by percentage is people 60 to 74, whose population doubled in the last 10 years.
There are several positive trends for job and employment growth, such as advanced industries employment growing by about 40,000 jobs since 2005; however, of the 1.05 million jobs in the Capital Area, 58 percent are in occupations where people make less than $20 per hour on average. “In our region we don’t have an unemployment problem. Our problem is that many folks can work a fulltime job and still be incredibly financially stretched,” Schreck said.
Travis County is still the region’s employment epicenter, which caused about 315,000 workers to commute into the county from elsewhere as of 2014. The increasing traffic continues to congest the already stressed transportation infrastructure which is costly to expand. Developing more employment centers throughout the region, and encouraging telecommuting can help traffic and improve air quality.
The region’s environmental quality, affordability and equity, and disaster resiliency are other areas Schreck addressed in the presentation.
Training, partnership, communication are lessons from mass shootings
Friday, October 07, 2016
Public officials from Orlando, Aurora, Chattanooga, Austin and Dallas discussed the important roles training, establishing partnerships and communicating play when responding to mass shooter incidents during CAPCOG’s “Crisis Challenge, the Leadership Role,” a critical incident workshop held in September.
Training on a regional, organizational and an individual scale is a great investment for communities when it comes to responding to disasters, according to the speakers discussing how their police, emergency medical and other personnel responded to mass shooting incidents. When it comes to running mass training exercises, there may never be an incident exactly the same as a planned exercise, but routinely running them can identify response gaps, better establish command roles and create an instinct style of response. “My job is to make sure the first time we do something is not the first time we do something,” said Fred Fletcher, Chattanooga police chief. He and his officers responded to the July 2015 shooting that killed four Marines and one Navy sailor. The incident spanned about 7 miles.
Orlando routinely plans for hurricanes, said Byron Brooks, city of Orlando chief administrative officer, during the workshop. The Pulse Nightclub shooting, which killed 49 people in June 2016, was a different type of event, but city-run emergency exercises had built an organizational wide culture where non-emergency departments knew they would have to respond to meet the community’s needs. For example, Orlando’s parks department responded quickly to support the community’s response by turning a senior center into a family reunification center.
Training personnel regularly leads to a better understanding of when to act, when to follow protocol and develops trust. “Train people to make decisions,” said James Puscian, Aurora assistant police chief. During the July 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting, which killed twelve and injured 70 others, several police officers realized there weren’t enough ambulances to transport the wounded who needed immediate care, so they used squad cars to take victims to nearby hospitals. Those officers’ actions saved lives, Puscian said. “Training makes it muscle memory,” said Tony Reavley, Director of Hamilton County Emergency Services in Tennessee who responded to the Chattanooga shooting. “It pays off.”
The partnerships developed during regional training and planning exercises made the Hamilton County departments’ role clear when responding to the Chattanooga shooting. “We were there to help them, and we wanted to make sure that they had the stuff they needed,” Reavley said. Hamilton County established the Emergency Operations Center, investigated other possible related incidents, helped manage the media, and assisted in organizing other agencies response to the incident, which included state police, the Navy, the Marines, the FBI and many other organizations. They also planned and coordinated security at several large related and un-related events happening in Chattanooga including two funerals, a vice-presidential visit, and a sold out U.S. Women’s soccer game. Those actions let the Chattanooga Police Department continue its investigation and management of the incident scenes. “If you don’t have a relationship with your peer agencies, it is going to affect your plan,” Fletcher said.
Sharing accurate and timely information with the public and the media is another important tool to aid in a community’s physical and emotional recovery from a mass shooting, said Sana Syed, city of Dallas public information officer; and April Michael, city of Orlando Communications Manager. Communicating what has happened, how and where people can grieve, and the incident’s effects on the community reminds residents that communities are resilient and stronger than any tragedy.
“At the end of the day, we are working together to protect the community,” said Frank Dixon, Austin Police Department Assistant Chief. That protection is born from constant learning, training, and sharing of information from people who have experienced disasters. Those who attended the “The Crisis Challenge” took a great step in preparing for a disaster. “The more you sweat here, the more you sweat during exercises, the less blood you have on your hands,” said John Jones, Assistant Director of Intelligence and Counter Terrorism for the Texas Department of Public Safety, as one of the openers of the conference.
Text to 9-1-1 enters testing: get familiar with texting 9-1-1
Friday, September 23, 2016
Text to 9-1-1 is one step closer to being implemented in the Capital Area as testing for the service’s delivery and receiving networks begins in October. After testing is completed and the system is switched on, residents will be able to send a text message for emergency assistance if they are unable to speak on the phone. CAPCOG anticipates the service will be available by January 2017.
It is recommended that residents only text 9-1-1 when making a voice call to 9-1-1 is unsafe or not possible. Residents should follow the guidance of the national slogan for Text to 9-1-1, and “Call if you can, text if you can’t” as the service has more limitations. For instance, cell phone carriers such as T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint only offer texting services as a “best effort service” meaning they do not guarantee delivery of text messages. 9-1-1 call centers can’t receive text messages sent via a group message or that have an emoji, video, or picture. There also isn’t translation services for text messages, so text messages must be sent in English.
Below are some frequently asked questions to help residents be more aware of using Text to 9-1-1 when it is available in the 10-county region.
What is Text to 9-1-1?
Text to 9-1-1 is the ability to send text messages from a U.S. phone number to local 9-1-1 call centers. Only use Text to 9-1-1 if making a voice call to 9-1-1 is unsafe or not possible. This service is especially beneficial to those who are hard of hearing, deaf, or speech-impaired. Some other examples of when Text to 9-1-1 would be beneficial:
- The caller cannot speak due to a threat, illness or medical condition.
- The caller has poor reception and can only send out a text message.
- Phone lines and cellphone towers are overwhelmed and only texts can get through.
Is Text to 9-1-1 available to me?
Text to 9-1-1 is planned for Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson counties. Remember to “Call if You Can, Text if You Can’t.”
Text to 9-1-1 is projected to be made available in three separate phases:
- Hays, Williamson and Travis counties are projected to start testing the system in October 2016.
- Lee, Bastrop, Caldwell and Fayette counties are projected to start testing the system in October 2016.
- Burnet, Blanco and Llano counties are projected to start testing the system in November 2016.
Text to 9-1-1 is projected to be fully operational in the 10-county region by January 2017. An online version of this FAQ will be updated as timelines change and the systems come online. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have agreed to offer Text to 9-1-1 in the region.
What are Text to 9-1-1 limits?
Text messaging is a “best effort service” provided by cellphone service providers; meaning cellphone service providers do not guarantee a message will be or ever was delivered. Since the Federal Communications Commission hasn’t required them to guarantee the service, there is a chance that a 9-1-1 call center will not receive a text from a person having an emergency.
Text messages also can take longer to receive, can be delivered out of order or may not be received. Additionally, Text to 9-1-1 does not work if the sender texts using a group message, emojis, sends pictures or videos. Apps that text other app users (such as WhatsApp) or texting via social media (such as Facebook Messenger) do not support Text to 9-1-1.
What languages can be used?
Text to 9-1-1 is only available in English. However, voice calls to 9-1-1 can be processed in multiple languages because all CAPCOG 9-1-1 call centers provide emergency interpretive services.
How do I know a 9-1-1 call center received my text?
Since texting is a “best effort service” for cellphone service providers, the only way to know a text reached a 9-1-1 call center is when the center texts back. If you believe a text was not received, call 9-1-1.
Why is it better to call 9-1-1?
Voice calls to 9-1-1 are the most efficient way to reach emergency help. That’s why the slogan for the service is “Call if You Can, Text if You Can’t.” Voice calls allow the 9-1-1 operator to quickly obtain information. Anyone can make a voice call to 9-1-1 using any wireless phone, regardless of the contract or plan.
Disadvantages of texting 9-1-1 include:
- Texting takes more time and is limited to the text messages.
- Texting is a best effort service. In some instances cellphone service providers may not relay the message from sender to the 9-1-1 center.
- A person cannot text to 9-1-1 without a service contract that includes texting.
- Texting to 9-1-1 does not automatically provide the location of the phone texting.
How do I Text to 9-1-1?
- Enter the numbers “911” in the “To” field.
- The first text message to 9-1-1 should be brief and contain the location of the emergency and type of help needed.
- Push the send button.
- Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.
- Text in simple words – do not use abbreviations.
- Keep text messages brief and concise.
- Once you have initiated a Text to 9-1-1 conversation, do not turn off your phone until the dispatcher tells you it is ok to do so.
Upgrade enhances virtual EOC
Thursday, September 22, 2016
WebEOC is a virtual, real-time incident management software that allows for data flow and multijurisdictional communications. It helps jurisdictions organize and assign tasks to team members during disasters and alerts other jurisdictions of neighboring and regional incidents. CAPCOG’s new upgrades will ensure increased accessibility, better user interface, and a more resilient cloud-based infrastructure that will enhance the tool’s capabilities and strengthen local emergency management coordinators (EMCs) organizational control of disaster incidents as they occur and after they happen. It also will allow their municipalities and counties to record valuable information that can assist in submitting for disaster recovery funding.
It also can help allocate local, state, and federal resources. The tool documents every action taken through the system providing an exact record of response and recovery, which speeds up applying for state and federal disaster recovery aid.
Because of the new user interface, the system allows its users to see all their operational boards at a glance and prompts them with tasks and missions assigned to them. The upgrade includes sub-administrator accounts allowing local jurisdictions to setup user groups and grant response teams to get faster access to the tool during incidents. A move to the cloud hosting also means the system can remain online and in use by EMCs regardless if an incident occurs in the Austin area.
CAPCOG is rolling out the upgraded version across the region and will continue to work with EMCs to support and enhance the system. WebEOC training occurs monthly.
Availability of diabetes self-management course expands
Monday, September 19, 2016
A new partnership will aid the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) in providing the Stanford Diabetes Self-Management Program to more underserved populations. The new funding opportunity increases AAACAP’s, a division of CAPCOG, capacity to conduct these evidence-based classes throughout the region. To expand the program, AAACAP is seeking communities to host the peer-group program.
Nearly one-third of people who are 65 or older have diabetes, which is a common cause of blindness, kidney failure, amputation, heart disease and stroke. To help prevent such medical issues from occurring to older Americans, TMF Health Quality Institute partnered with CAPCOG to provide the self-management program to Medicare beneficiaries who are 60 or older and are considered a special target population for diabetes education: African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and rural residents.
This self-management program is proven to help diabetes patients better manage the disease by teaching techniques and exercises to manage pain, maintain and improve strength, eat heathier, work with health care providers and identify appropriate medication use. The program has improved the quality of life for many participants and reduced emergency room and hospital visits; a benefit to the individual and the health care system. According to TMF, people with diabetes spend 2.3 times more on health care than people without the disease.
Workshops are held one day a week for 2-2 ½ hours during a six week period.