Showcasing CAPCOG’s preparedness expertise, the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division’s staff spoke about community and family recovery, operational continuity, congregate shelter operations, and the role of crisis information systems during the annual Texas Division of Emergency Management Conference held the first week of June.
Martin Ritchey, CAPCOG homeland security director, shared his experiences as the incident commander for the 2016 Caldwell County hot air balloon crash — the nation’s deadliest aviation incident since 2009 — and how recovery goes beyond rebuilding infrastructure. “Recovery is not just repairing bridges and roads from a disaster,” Ritchey said. “There is a part of the heart of the community that has been broken, and that needs time to heal.” During his conference presentation, Ritchey spoke about how the families affected by the incident and the community are seeking regulatory changes and working on constructing a monument as part of their recovery and healing process.
Olivia Hemby, CAPCOG homeland security planner, used the 1993 film Jurassic Park as an example of how important continuity and risk assessments are for operations during a disaster. While she discussed planning for continuity and establishing risk assessments, the film highlighted how failures in redundancy and cross training can make a small event such as losing power into a much larger disaster. Dee Harrison, CAPCOG homeland security program coordinator, led an escape room-style interactive discussion on operating congregate shelters during evacuations. Participants teamed up to identify and discuss solutions to puzzles related to shelter issues; teams were awarded prizes based on their recommended solutions. Matt Zimmerman, CAPCOG crisis information systems coordinator, shared his expertise as a leader in using WebEOC during the conference’s two-day WebEOC administrators and users meeting.