Waiting for the phone to ring
Houston County Courier - January 2010
By Daphne Hereford
Recounting a Mock Emergency
CROCKETT - While most people were comfortable in their homes enjoying family and friends during the New Year holiday, there were those who sat quietly waiting for the phone to ring.
"911, what is the location of your emergency?," the Houston County Sheriff's Office dispatcher asked the caller as she began meticulously entering the critical data offered by the distressed man into the sophisticated computer system.
Calmly and with exact purpose, the dispatcher quickly gathered the necessary information including location and type of incident and began paging emergency personnel to respond to the caller’s report of need.
The distressed caller had reported a traffic accident on a county road in Latexo. First came the identifiable two-pitch tone designated for the Latexo Volunteer Fire Department which is immediately followed by the dispatcher, “Latexo Volunteer Fire Department I need you to respond to a two car 1050 on County Road 1805, at the intersection of Hwy. 19 two miles north of the loop, injuries are involved.” What follows is a voice on the radio, “801, clear on the page,” the fire chief indicating he had received the call and was in route.
The call sets a group of dedicated volunteers into action who leave their families and make their way to the fire station to mount the necessary equipment to respond to the incident. Within minutes the firefighters are on the scene doing what is necessary to assist the people involved.
Things were not quiet in the dispatch office while the fire department was responding because law enforcement and emergency medical workers were being summoned to the scene. “6550 Houston County,” the dispatcher said with a clear and deliberate voice within seconds of having received the initial 911 call and paging out the fire department. The DPS trooper responds, “Houston County 6550.” The dispatcher repeats the original page noting the nature of the incident and the location. The trooper responds that he is in route. Two HCSO deputies respond that they are also in route.
All the while, the HCSO dispatcher also notified ETMC EMS whose separate dispatcher in Tyler has sent an ambulance to the scene. The ambulance stationed at ETMC Crockett and staffed by an Emergency Medical Technician and Paramedic is on its way and arrives at the scene within minutes.
The ETMC EMS personnel leap from their truck and race to the occupants of both vehicles involved in the crash. One driver complains of neck pain and is immediately stabilized and transported to ETMC Crockett for treatment.
As the ambulance rolls into ETMC Crockett, the doctors, nurses and medical staff inside the hospital have been already notified that EMS is bringing a patient in. Once the automatic doors at the hospital open and the gurney rolls through the doors, the medical staff immediately begins work on the patient to determine how seriously the neck injury is. After tests, x-rays and examination, it is determined that the patient does not require hospitalization and can be released.
Meanwhile, deputies continue to monitor the traffic in the area, firefighters clear the roadway, the vehicles are towed away, the trooper has all the information he needs for his report, and one by one the emergency personnel report to the dispatcher, “Houston County 801, we are clear of the scene.”
And about two hours after the initial call the workers return to their stations or their homes and wait for the next call.
At this typical scene there were six firefighters, two DPS troopers, two HCSO deputies, two ETMC EMS personnel, and 10 medical personnel in the emergency room, a total of 22 people who, in this mock emergency, have dedicated their lives to helping others.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus – for the residents of Houston County it is these amazing people who give so much of themselves to help others.
Some of these dedicated emergency personnel include Houston County Sheriff’s Office personnel, Crockett Police Department, DPS, ETMC Crockett, ETMC EMS, the 14 local fire departments and emergency responders, Texas Forest Service, US Forest Service, and game wardens.