Texas Military, Austin Police showcase partnership during annual Open House
Story by: Spc. Christina Clardy
Posted on: April 17, 2016
AUSTIN, Texas – Despite the heavy mist and scattered showers, members of the Texas Military Department, state and local law enforcement officers, first responders, volunteer services and veteran support organizations turned out for the Texas Military Department’s Open House weekend featuring the American Heroes Show at Camp Mabry, in Austin, April 16, 2016.
The free public event showcased a wide variety of demonstrations, reenactments, static displays, an 80 percent replica of the Vietnam War memorial, vendors and family fun events focused on the continued partnership between the various State and local civil services and the Texas Military Department.
“This is our 10th year to put on this event in partnership with the Texas Military Department,” said Austin Police Cpl. Wut Tantaksinanukij, this year’s American Heroes Show co-director. “It’s a great community event for the citizens here, who many don’t even realize that there is a military base in the center of Austin, and they don’t realize that it is open to the public.”
The Austin Police Department shares a long partnership with Camp Mabry and the service men and women of the Texas Military Department. Together, they share in numerous training and real-life reactionary situations that allow the two departments the opportunity to learn from one another and to gain a deep understanding of how their counterparts operate.
“We have a great working relationship with the folks here at Camp Mabry and the Texas Military Department, and have for a great many years,” said Tantaksinanukij. “There are all different types of emergency scenarios that could bring us together. With continued training and partnership, we will have a professional resolution to any situations that arise.”
The Texas Military Department, as part of the Defense Support to Civilian Authorities, has mobilized 24,000 guardsmen in support of federal, state and local law enforcement and first responders in more than 183 natural and man-made disasters since 2001. These include wildfires, flash floods, winter weather, hurricanes and law enforcement.
Many officers from the Austin Police Department, Austin Fire Department and Austin Emergency Medical Services train frequently with their counterparts from the Texas Military Department on the joint Texas Task Force-1. According to their mission statement, the task force is one of 28 federal teams under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Urban Search and Rescue System and the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
“During natural disasters, state governments call on many federal and state response agencies to assist local first responders,” said Senior Lt. Kurt Rothert, Austin Police
Department Special Operations unit, during the police and military tactics demonstration. “In Texas, a specialized partnership exists between the Texas Military Department and the most active urban search and rescue team in the country, Texas Task Force 1.”
This Urban Search and Rescue Task Force has more than 600 members including doctors, first responders, military counterparts, structural engineers, canine handlers, professors and experts throughout many different fields. In addition, the Texas Military Department partners with Task Force-1 providing water response capabilities and aviation response teams.
“As part of Task Force 1, I work with the Texas Military Department on a monthly basis,” said Austin Fire Department Lt. Matt McElearney, Company Officer for Engine 32. “For example, we train with the National Guard’s helicopter units using their hoists for rescue missions, such as water rescue where people may be stuck in their houses, on a car or in a tree during a flood or emergency situation.”
Despite the weather, more than 5,900 people visited the Open House on Saturday.
“The weather didn’t cooperate with us this year but we are excited and already planning for next year,” said Tantaksinanukij. “It’s exciting for us to showcase what we do on a public side of the house through the Austin Police Department, the Austin Fire Department, the Austin EMS, and show some of our other skills sets that we have to offer to keep our community safe. But also to show how the Texas Military Department and the Austin Police Department play two different roles, and how we integrate those two components in our partnership.”