Spring break safety discussed at multi-agency meeting
A meeting aimed at planning and prepping for major issues in Cameron County was held Friday morning at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen.
More than 12 agencies gathered to discuss safety issues and protocols, like what to do in an active shooter scenario and severe weather disasters. A big topic discussed was the safety of spring breakers come this season at South Padre Island.
SPI fire Chief Doug Fowlers says because of past incidents during spring break, they're stepping up their prep game.
"We will have more emergency medical resources than we've ever had before," Fowlers said.
Last spring break, Daisy Joy Decker was arrested and charged after South Padre Island police say she struck five people, critically injuring one and killing another.
Now, law enforcement say this spring break will be more secure because not only will they have extra staff and 50 percent more ambulances, but also a new state-of-the-art mobile command unit.
"It's a mobile emergency room that has capacity for 14 beds," said Fowler. "The difference between last year and this year is that last year we had a triage tent, similar capacity, but it was staffed by EMT's and now we're going to have a doctor on-staff to better use our resources."
Fowler said the unit will be parked on the island during March 15, 16, and 17-- the busiest beach days.
On top of the daily issues emergency services will see at SPI, like underage drinking and dehydrated people, Fowler says they're also prepared to respond if a mass casualty situation should occur.
"We have plans in place. Any type of mass casualty, any emergency situation, police, fire and EMS coordinate how we're going to respond and how we're going to react during those situations," said Fowler. "That way, we can have a seamless delivery of services safely get it, remove the patients, treat them and take them to the hospital."
Cameron County Emergency Management Coordinator Tom Hushen organizes these meetings with one goal— to make sure residents are safe.
"It makes for an easier access, a quick response," Hushen said. "It makes for saving lives and that's the bottom line, we make sure lives are saved."
The city of South Padre Island will also have a social media team monitoring all posts regarding parties posted online.