Texas Guard, Czech army trains for disaster in Operation Lonestar
By Staff Sgt. Daniel Griego
Texas National Guard
WESLACO, Texas (8/6/10) — For the joint members of the Texas Military Forces, the Department of State Health Services and local civil agencies, preparedness means more than a ready standing force.
With the persistent threat of hurricanes, flooding and seasonal pandemics, preparedness requires a fully trained, joint force capable of engaging a large-scale incident anywhere in the state.
“What we do and what we’re training for is a mass casualty,” said Texas State Guard Capt. James R. Owens, a registered nurse with the DFW Medical Group. “It’s about taking care of the population.”
This year, these state assets used the annual humanitarian event Operation Lone Star to conduct a complete exercise simulating a mass casualty incident. Providing the Rio Grande Valley with immunizations, physicals and various other medical services, the mission sought to stress and challenge the capabilities of state military and civilian departments, as well as reinforce their cooperation and inter-agency communication.
“At one level, we provide free care,” said Dr. Brian R. Smith, lead for the public health agency sponsoring OLS and the regional medical director for Health Service Region 11. “At the same time, it provides a preparedness exercise for those of us in public health and the Texas Military forces to work together and to practice together in a major event.”
Among the state agencies supporting the operation is the Texas Medical Assistance Team (TexMAT-1), populated by paramedics and medical practitioners from through the state.
“It’s an opportunity under a training scenario to see a lot of people at one time,” said Charles A. Neely, an EMT paramedic with TexMAT-1. “It just improves our capabilities in the long run.”