Texas Guardsmen support Emergency Tracking Network training

Story by: 1st Sgt. Daniel Griego

Posted On: May 17, 2016

1st Sgt. Daniel Griego Spc. Victoria Diaz (center) of the Texas National Guard's Joint Task Force 136 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade) role plays as a disaster evacuee during a training scenario with the Texas Division of Emergency Management to test their new Emergency Tracking Network May 12 at the Round Rock Armed Forces Reserve Center. The scenario allowed the National Guard and civilian authorities to work together while also creating a training video product for use once the new tracking system goes online June 1. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Sgt. Daniel Griego/Released)
1st Sgt. Daniel Griego
Spc. Victoria Diaz (center) of the Texas National Guard's Joint Task Force 136 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade) role plays as a disaster evacuee during a training scenario with the Texas Division of Emergency Management to test their new Emergency Tracking Network May 12 at the Round Rock Armed Forces Reserve Center. The scenario allowed the National Guard and civilian authorities to work together while also creating a training video product for use once the new tracking system goes online June 1. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Sgt. Daniel Griego/Released)

The Texas Division of Emergency Management, part of the Department of Public Safety, is rolling out a new resource to help evacuees during disasters. As a longtime partner within the emergency response community, the Texas National Guard’s Joint Task Force 136 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade) supported a key effort May 12 in the system’s implementation by hosting a training simulation and instructional video project at its Round Rock Armed Forces Reserve Center.

“Today we are testing the ETN system,” said Sam Miller, the Critical Information Systems Response and Development Manager for TDEM. “We’re running through the steps and recording the process so that we can build a training video so that those who are going to be using the Emergency Tracking Network in the future would be able to watch the video to get a quick lesson before we implement it in real life.”

The network, which operates as both a web-based platform and a smartphone application, integrates capabilities that previously required four separate programs, allowing smoother accountability and tracking of citizens in need following a natural disaster.

“This is very innovative because it’s the first time that they’ve used an application like this and made it a cell phone-based application,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Nolan, the Joint Task Force 136 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade) chief of staff. “For us it was a great opportunity, just using the resources we have at hand to help them out with that particular problem and further our partnership with the [Division] of Emergency Management.”

The National Guard’s role in the event included providing support personnel, a suitable location, and resources to complete a scaled evacuation scenario and film the training video.

“This National Guard armory had all of the facets that we look for in an entry place and a shelter,” said Miller. “We also had the ability to load a bus. The pieces of the evacuation are simply just tracking the movement of people and assets and animals into vehicles and locations. This particular facility held all of them.”

Both the application and the video will be ready in time for the Texas hurricane season.

“We will have this product before June 1, and it will be available for the end users,” said Jaime Ovalla, CIS Developer for TDEM. “The important thing is we want to track individuals.”

Last month, JTF-136 (MEB) supported TDEM with a scaled display and guest speaker at the annual emergency management conference. This training event is just one of many each year that help to reinforce the strong bond between the two organizations. 

“They can depend on us to bring resources together in partnership with them when they need to do just about anything,” said Nolan.