Steiner named Chief of Staff

Col. Dan SteinerCommentary courtesy of the Texas Military Forces

CAMP MABRY, Texas (June 6, 2014) – Maj. Gen. Manuel “Tony” Rodriguez, Commander of the Texas State Guard, is pleased to announce that Col. Dan Steiner, of Cedar Park, has been named Chief of Staff for the Texas State Guard.

In his new role, Steiner will work to accomplish the goals and mission of the Texas State Guard.

Steiner’s previous military background includes experience as a Senior Intelligence Officer, Director of Threat Cell, Texas Air National Guard, in Austin, Texas, and Director of Joint Operations for the Texas Air National Guard with expertise in Defense Support of Civil Authorities coordination and disaster operations. In this role, he has assisted with various Hurricanes, to include Katrina and Rita, as well as wildfires and floods. Additionally, Steiner holds a Political Science degree from Lindenwood University. 

Steiner assumed his role as Chief of Staff for the Texas State Guard on May 15, 2014.  He continues a great military career, and we look forward to his many accomplishments to come.

Welcome aboard!

19th Regiment Combines Annual Training with North Texas Mass Casualty Exercise

Story by: CPT Esperanza Meza

Posted: 16-JUN-14

Spc John Turner with 19th Regiment, 1st Battalion, scans a Texas Emergency Tracking Network (TETN) band to provide to shelter evacuees at Balch Springs Recreation Center, during a mock hurricane exercise, June 7, 2014
Spc John Turner with 19th Regiment, 1st Battalion, scans a Texas Emergency Tracking Network (TETN) band to provide to shelter evacuees at Balch Springs Recreation Center, during a mock hurricane exercise, June 7, 2014

The Troopers of the Dallas-based 19th Civil Affairs Regiment, Texas State Guard, joined more than a dozen North Texas emergency management agencies in a mass casualty exercise that tested the full-range of the Regiment’s mission set. Operation Thunderbolt, led by the Dallas County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, tested the Regiment’s leaders and staffs at every level and provided Troopers unique and challenging training in readiness for this year’s hurricane season. The exercise took place in several communities across North Texas requiring the Regiment to operate simultaneously from numerous locations at the maximum range of its communications capabilities and to move every day.

“We set out from the beginning to exercise each of our METL tasks in an interagency agency environment on the turf where we’re likely to be employed”, said Col. Robert Hastings, commander of the 19th Regiment. “Every year, our annual training cycle culminates in a hurricane readiness exercise at the beginning of hurricane season.”

The training scenario revolved around a category 4 hurricane bearing down on the gulf coast triggering evacuations of Texas and Louisiana coastal communities and activation of the Dallas mass sheltering plan. It was further complicated by severe weather in North Texas with multiple tornadoes and severe flooding. In addition to thousands of evacuees, the scenario included mass casualties from an airplane crash and a hazardous chemical accident. The scenario enabled the Regiment to exercise its emergency response capabilities in communications, mass care, shelter management, evacuee tracking, wide area damage assessment, and search and rescue.

The exercise also contained a number leadership reaction scenarios designed to build teamwork and communication. In one scenario, teams conducting wide area damage assessment in the city, Grapevine, following a simulated tornado strike, discovered civilians and another TXSG team trapped in a “collapsed” warehouse – in reality a Grapevine Fire Department rescue training facility. The teams had to rapidly assess the situation, determine a course of action, and evacuate and treat the victims as the building “collapsed” around them. In another scenario, the Regiment responded to a request for assistance from the DFW Airport to help search for missing passengers from a plane crash in a heavily wooded area on the airport.

PFC Hunter Becker, assigned to 19th Regiment, 1st Battalion, attaches a Texas Emergency Tracking Network (TETN) band to one of the victims, acting as a role player, as her mother looks on  during a hurricane shelter management exercise, June 7, 2014
PFC Hunter Becker, assigned to 19th Regiment, 1st Battalion, attaches a Texas Emergency Tracking Network (TETN) band to one of the victims, acting as a role player, as her mother looks on  during a hurricane shelter management exercise, June 7, 2014

SGT Samantha Shipman, a Civil Affairs team leader, stated, “This AT tested both our basic and advanced skills in dealing with different real world scenarios and issues. It built our teamwork and communications to a new level and gave us an opportunity to find things to improve on that we may have overlooked in previous AT experiences.”

As thousands of displaced citizens began flooding into Dallas, the Regiment was redirected to the area of Balch Springs, Kaufman and Terrell to establish shelters and process evacuees. As evacuee “role players” streamed in by bus and carload, Troopers quickly established shelters, emergency tracking network stations and medical treatment stations for special needs patients. Each of the dozens of role players presented a unique and challenging problem for the shelter teams to deal with. Realism was further driven by injects provided by observer-controllers and civilian emergency management subject matter experts.

“I enjoyed getting the chance to set up and work with the emergency tracking network equipment and though there were some issues, it gave me the chance to practice coming up with a viable solution in real time with people actually waiting,” explained Spc. John Hurst.

The sentiment was echoed by Pvt. Jonathan Miller, a new member of the 19th Regiment, who added that the exercise put all his previous training in context. “Having just completed my FEMA and Red Cross training, it allowed me to gain real world perspective and partake in multiple disaster scenarios.”

The Regiment’s three battalions were augmented by a detachment from the TXSG Medical Brigade, a signals team from Texas Army MARS, and personnel from the TXSG Maritime Regiment.

"When the citizens of the Texas need assistance, exercises like this ensure we'll be ready. It was an opportunity to prove to ourselves and our emergency management partners that we are in fact prepared to respond," said Hastings.

Command and General Staff College Graduation of Class One

Command and General Staff College Class One

Story By: SSG Timothy Pruitt, Public Affairs Officers TXSG HQ

CAMP MABRY, TX —On Saturday 14 June 2014 the Command and General Staff College (CGSCG) graduated its first class of twelve graduates. The CGSCG is a Graduate level program for senior officers with the enduring purpose of supporting Leader Development and Education.  Professional Military Education ensures the professional vitality of officers by preparing them to discharge their duties in the service of our great state of Texas.

The twelve graduates are as follows: BG Brian K. Smallwood (Class Leader), COL Edwin A. Grantham (Asst. Leader), LTC Phyllis Brooks, LTC James Ray Hays, LTC Kristopher K. Krueger, LTC Kevin J. Lilly, MAJ Benedict J. Boerner, LCDR Robert W. Finley, MAJ Jose L. Garcia, MAJ Donna V. Lary, MAJ Wendell C. Sadler, and MAJ J. Michael Spraggins

Operation Alamo Shield

BY: CMSgt Paul Lankford, Public Affairs Officer 5th AW

Picture of People next to mapsPORT ARANSAS, TX—On Wednesday morning June 6th the weather in Port Aransas, TX was deceptively calm, with no heavy rains or gusty winds. Preliminary weather reports indicated the approach of a relatively mild storm, which had first formed as a tropical depression two days before in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm was being monitored by Air Force Hurricane Hunters from the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, Keesler AFB, MS.

By nightfall the weather had quickly changed drastically, and the National Weather Service was now issuing warnings for a full-fledged hurricane with its eye on Port Aransas, Ingleside, Aransas Pass and Corpus Christi. Winds at landfall were now being predicted to exceed 160 miles per hour.

The suddenness of this storm had happened once before on August 3, 1970 with Hurricane Celia, which approached as a mild storm, but left 18 dead, 9,000 injured or sick, over 3,000 homes destroyed or damaged with estimated property losses exceeding $100 million. Celia also accounted for over $50 million in crop loss. This storm, as islanders later put it, “Surely was Celia’s sister.”

COL Vincent Carag, Texas State Guard Commander of the 1st Regiment (REGT) in San Antonio, had been monitoring the progress of the storm, and wisely conducted a practice “recall” on Tuesday night. COL Carag’s gut feeling later proved to be a “game changer.”

The hurricane hit Port Aransas on its march across the island to Corpus Christi, where it hit with devastating consequences. With so little warning, very few people were able to evacuate the area north up I-37 to San Antonio. Port Aransas normally has a year round population of 4,000, but during the summer months it swells to from 40,000 to 70,000. Corpus Christi is a moderate sized Gulf Coast city with a population of about 312,000.

COL Carag initiated a real-world “recall” on Thursday morning assembling a Task Force made up of 150 soldiers and airmen, who would provide evacuee tracking, shelter management, points of distribution, area reconnaissance, wide area assessment, limited search and rescue, area security, and other emergency management missions to protect lives and property in the storm-ravaged area.

Task Force 1st REGT is made up of San Antonio-area TXSG forces, soldiers and airmen who train annually for just such a disaster response. TF 1 REGT commander COL Carag said, “San Antonio is geographically closest to the summer island playgrounds of Padre Island, Port Aransas, Aransas Pass and the city of Corpus Christi, thus we would be the first get the call for hurricane disaster contingency operations.” He emphasized, “That’s what we train for—that’s who we are.”

The scenario described above was the basis for the Annual Training (AT) for TF 1 REGT, which also included the 449th Air Support Group, the Alamo Medical Response Group, and the Engineering Detachment. The 1st BN and 3rd BN of the 1st RGT were the Army components to the Task Force.

“After Hurricane Celia hit the area 43 years ago, much has changed in how we track, prepare and train for hurricane relief,“ explained Rick Adams, Emergency Management Coordinator (EMC) for the city of Port Aransas. EMC Adams, working with Brandi Ashby-Fisher, District Coordinator for Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), COL (USA Ret) Rob Maxham, volunteer Assistant EMC Port Aransas, asked the TXSG executive counsel if they would be willing to conduct disaster training in conjunction with Port Aransas and Nueces County for their Annual Training this year. “We thought this training would benefit both the city of Port Aransas and the TXSG greatly,” COL Carag said.Pictures of 3 troops

“Ancillary emergency responders, who aided in the AT hurricane relief scenario were the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) ‘green egg’,” COL Carag stressed. He explained that the Red Cross aided in shelter management, while the Salvation Army provided meals for the Task Force.

Others involved included the Port Aransas Independent School District (ISD). COL James J. Gardon, Medical Response Group oversaw efforts to house TXSG personnel in the Burnett Middle School gymnasium, and set up the inflatable shelter on ISD grounds.

EMC Rick Adams said virtually every municipal employee was involved in the scenario, “Our Fire and EMS, our Police, our Water Plant personnel, our Waste Water personnel, and our facilities personnel all pitched in to make this a real success.”

Maj Ferdinand Girard, Commander of the 449th ASG, Lackland AFB said it best, “This is as close as you can come to the real thing (a hurricane)—this is exactly the type joint-training we should be doing.”

“Much of the success of this year’s Annual Training scenario belongs to the Operations Officer for 1st REGT, MAJ Don T. Shirley, who coordinated the planning,” said Col Thomas Ball, 5th Air Wing (5th AW) Commander.  Members of the 5Th AW were utilized to be “Evaluators” during the exercise.  Col Ball provided boat and water safety training in Port Aransas to Army and Air Component personnel.  “After  hurricane landfall, our troops may be asked to conduct operations around high-water areas, and we want to ensure they can perform those duties safely and effectively,” Col Ball explained.

Overall, COL Carag was pleased with the performance of the task force over the four-day training period. “We ran round-the-clock scenarios, and stressed our people with events much like they would encounter during a real hurricane,” COL Carag said. “Are we better prepared for a hurricane?, you bet we are,” he answered.

Medical Outreach Provides Care in East Texas

Photo of Dr. Jonathan MacClements and Nurse Practitioner Thoone
Dr. Jonathan MacClements and Nurse Practitioner Thoone

VAN, TX – The Texas State Guard in cooperation with a number of medical agencies, colleges, and other community organizations has returned for the second year to provide preventative and primary care to uninsured East Texans.  Licensed physicians and nurses are performing physicals, administering hearing tests, mammograms, and other health screenings, providing immunizations, dental care, and mental health services, and advising on healthy lifestyle choices.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Department of State Health Service and the Texas State Guard to deliver to those most in need in East Texas.  Lives are being changed,” stated George T. Roberts, Jr., Chief Executive Officer Northeast Texas public health district.

More than 500 individuals had arrived by Wednesday morning with two days of service still to go -- far exceeding the 300 visits last year. Many use this opportunity to receive the only health care and dental care they receive all year long and are very appreciative of the State’s efforts.

“We appreciate the support of the Texas State Guard who provided support of traffic flow, security, and filling in the hot spots each day.  We could not have made it without them.” said Dr. Paul McGaha, Regional Medical Director of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Partnering agencies include Van ISD, University of Texas at Tyler School of Nursing, UT Health Northeast Family Medicine Residency Program, NET Health, Texas Department of State Health Services, Piney Woods Regional Advisory Council Trauma Service Area-G, Texas A&M University, Baylor College of Dentistry, Andrews Center, Tyler Junior College and many other community organizations.

Texas State Guard Holds Disaster Drill in DFW

Story by: NBCDFW.com - Posted on June 6, 2014

The Texas State Guard is holding disaster drills in parts of North Texas Friday and Saturday.

The guard will simulate search and rescue operations and wide area damage assessment in both an outdoor wooded area near Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and an indoor collapsed building setting in Grapevine on Friday.

On Saturday, they'll partner with the American Red Cross to practice emergency shelter operations and management scenarios at the civic center, replicating an actual emergency.

The exercises will be full-scale operational events that will provide hands-on training to ensure the organization is ready to respond and provide the necessary relief now that hurricane season has begun.

"Dallas County is mobilizing state organizations, law agencies and nonprofits to conduct disaster scenarios — such as hurricanes — and initiate relief support. The process is vital to prevent costly indecisions during a real crisis. The Texas State Guard is asking for volunteers from the DFW areas to participate in the mock scenarios as "victims" or to join the unit as volunteer relief supporter," the group said in a news release.

The Texas State Guard is a voluntary regiment deployed by the governor to assist state and local authorities in emergency situations.

(click here to read more)

Brownwood Regional Medical Center Hosts Disaster Drill

Photo of EventBrownwood Regional Medical Center hosted their semi-annual disaster drill Friday morning from 8 AM until noon.

The "mock" tornado drill included the Brown County Disaster Trailer and triage tent setup along with participation from the Texas State Guard to give readiness and training for the use of these assets in an emergency situation with possible mass casualties. The scenario of the drill included mass casualties as if the area suffered damage as a tornado made a path through the Brown County area at 9:00 AM.

The location of the drill was in the parking lot near the west entrance of the hospital, just off Streckert Drive. The drill helped illustrate the events that can and will occur during arrival of patients and casualties being triaged during such a disaster, along with handling of the families as they arrive needing to check on patients. This mock tornado drill also tested the coordination of services and involvement pushing the limits of the overall readiness of all hospital departments including nursing staff, physicians and support staff, according to Marketing Director Donna Hair who stated, “Planning and readiness of our team is essential in the event of a true emergency.”

In the case of a real disaster, it is important for the public not to respond to the hospital immediately to find loved ones. Hair explained that Brownwood Regional Medical Center would relocate patients and work with staff to accommodate the needs, triage and treatment, of patients with the assistance of the Texas State Guard and the Brown County Emergency Management team. Once communication is sustained in and out of the facility during the disaster, the public would be informed of how status updates on patients (loved ones and friends) may be received.

In this situation, a press release would be sent out from BRMC’s Chief Executive Officer, Chip Camp asking the public to assist with the above response in a real emergency scenario/disaster such as this. Hair provided the media with a sample of this release which included the above request for family to wait on information rather than inundating the hospital with even more people to identify and process rather when time is of the essence to triage and treat patients.

Brownwood Fire Department, Brown County CERT Team, Brown County Emergency Management officials, Guardian EMS/Allegiance Ambulance, Texas State Guard, Brownwood Regional Medical Center personnel and several volunteers took part in Friday’s drill.

Pictured are scenes from the disaster drill on Friday. 

Tips for a safe summer

Commentary by: Michelle McBride

Memorial Day weekend has come and gone and with it began the “101 critical days of summer,” which spans from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  This is a time of year that our Texas Military Forces leadership wants to highlight safety on and off the job. 

With barbecue, long travel days and fireworks in the mix, it’s easy to lose sight of important safety precautions and become a little careless. For example, did you know that even the “safe” fireworks, such as sparklers can reach temperatures above 1000 degrees Fahrenheit? According to the National Safety Council (NSC), “in 2010, fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 reported fires, including 1,100 structure fires. These fires resulted in an estimated 8,600 people treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, 39 percent of whom were under 15 years of age.”

Increased travel also seems to decrease safety in personal vehicles. Some important things to remember are don’t drink and drive, don’t drive while tired and take plenty of rest breaks along the way-- your destination will still be there even if you stop to use the restroom. Also, if riding a motorcycle remember to wear a helmet, as well as highly visible protective clothing and gear. 

When you arrive at your beach vacation of choice remember to always apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours. This is especially important if you have children with you as the NSC indicates, two sunburns before the age of 18 can double the risk of melanoma. 
When in the water, try to avoid drinking and swimming so you can stay cognizant of your surroundings as well as the people around you who may not be strong swimmers. 

Again, as you embark on the ‘dog days’ of summer, remember these are just a few tips to help you make the most of your summer and help keep you and your family safe. For more tips, visit the National Safety Council website at: 

http://www.nsc.org/learn/Pages/safety-events-summer-safety.aspx

 

Texas State Guard to hold mock disaster exercises

Story by: Masako Melissa Hirsch

The Dallas Morning News  

Posted June 4, 2014

The 19th Regiment of the Texas State Guard will conduct mock disaster exercises this weekend in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The volunteer regiment, which helps local and state authorities during emergencies, will use the exercises as training to help prepare for the hurricane season.

On Friday, the Guard will simulate search-and-rescue operations and wide-area damage assessment at the south wooded area at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and at 815 S. Main St, in Grapevine. The exercises will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

On Saturday, the Guard will hold a hurricane-evacuation shelter with the American Red Cross at the Civic Center in Balch Springs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The mock disasters will be part of a training event led by the Dallas County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, in conjunction with several local agencies.