San Angelo First Responders: Heroes of the Storm
SAN ANGELO, TEXAS -- At approximately 7:00 p.m. on Friday, June 23, 2017, San Angelo's residents witnessed a severe storm that brought damaging rains and winds through the city. The aftermath was devastating and as soon as mother nature's storm passed through the city, first responders and dispatchers went to work immediately to help those who suffered from electricity outages to caved roofs and uprooted trees.
San Angelo’s resources performed beyond expectation in emergency operations and many off-duty San Angelo Police Department (SAPD) officers and dispatchers reported to work without being asked.
During Friday’s storm, San Angelo's Public Safety Communications recorded 762 calls between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and midnight. These calls included all incoming non-emergency, 911, abandoned, and outgoing calls, a SAPD press release stated.
To put this volume into perspective, during the four-hour time period, dispatchers averaged 190.5 calls per hour. In comparison, dispatchers averaged 115 total calls during the same four-hour period the previous Friday for an average of 28.75 calls per hour.
Assistant Fire Chief/Operations Todd Sanford praised the San Angelo Fire Department (SAFD) for their efforts Friday night as they were working with limited resources. Sanford also extended a warm thank you to the tireless efforts from the police and fire dispatchers for managing every call they received Friday night
During the storm, 75 “runs” were made by SAFD. Of those 75 calls, two were for reports of a house fire, one was for a jaws-of-life request, two calls were run for reports of a building collapsing. Furthermore, SAFD responded to more than 50 pole fires.
There were 45 firefighters on duty with SAFD Friday night, with an additional off-duty responder and Chief Sanford.
"I am very proud of our first responders," Chief Sanford said. " I couldn't imagine anywhere doing as well as the San Angelo firefighters, police officers, and dispathchers."
While the SAFD responded to their calls, SAPD officers responded to life-threatening tree and electrical hazards, traffic issues caused by downed signals, signs, utility lines, and debris in roadways. The SAPD also responded to alarm calls, grass and structure fires, motor vehicle accidents, as well as other non-storm related calls for service. The SAPD worked jointly with their partner agencies on several calls.
One noteworthy issue attributed to the large call volume was by citizens who called Police and Fire Dispatch to report power outages or to inquire about estimated repair times. The police department reminds citizens that the San Angelo Police and Fire Dispatch lines ( 911 and non-emergency 325-657-4315) should never be used to report power outages or to inquire about estimated repair times. These types of reports should go directly to AEP by calling 1-866-223-8508 or online at https://www.aeptexas.com/outages/report. Department officials are asking citizens to save this important contact information for future reference and to help keep emergency lines open for true emergencies.
Larry Jones, community outreach for AEP out of Austin, confirmed that out of the 15,500 customers who were left without power on Friday, only 190 customers are left without power as of 11 a.m. Monday morning.
"As we move forward into Texas’s severe weather season, we ask citizens to be prepared," the SAPD asks. "Visit www.ready.gov/severe-weather to develop a plan, monitor local National Weather Service updates at http://www.weather.gov/sjt/ or by smart phone weather application, and to subscribe to local public safety alerts at https://local.nixle.com/san-angelo-police-department/."