In the second episode of this three-part series, guest host Kathy Fraser talks to two responders from inside the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council (STRAC) warehouse. They have been working together for several months to support medical professionals in southwest Texas by distributing much-needed PPE from this distribution center.
SPEAKERS: Kathy Fraser (TEEX), Adrienne Pierce (TEEX), Chase Martin (STRAC).
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Narrator: Welcome to the Disaster Management Podcast series. Each episode features subject matter professionals discussing strategies and techniques for emergency managers and policy makers to consider as they prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. This series is brought to you by Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service.
Kris: Welcome back! Kris Murphy here again. In the second episode of our COVID-19 Series from San Antonio, Kathy Fraser continues to talk to state employees about distribution of Personal Protective Equipment from one of the Regional Advisory Councils, or RACs, to the medical professionals in Southwest Texas.
Kathy: Today I am in the STRAC, which Chase will define in just a moment. But I am in the STRAC with Chase Martin, who works here in the STRAC and with Adrienne Pierce, who is a TEEX employee. So, Chase, first question—please define what STRAC is and what a RAC is, especially in this COVID response.
Chase: STRAC stands for Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council.
Kathy: What are RACs—I mean we hear about those across the state—and what function do they perform?
Chase: There are multiple different RACs across the state that assist in emergencies, whether that’s manmade, natural, any type of emergency that first responders might need help with—we assist.
Kathy: And all of the RACs, the R-A-Cs—Regional Advisory Councils—across the state are currently involved in the same thing that this one is.
Chase: Correct. And right now we’re distributing Personal Protective Equipment to medical personnel—doctors, dentists, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, rehab facilities—throughout our region.
Kathy: And Adrienne, you are here as a TEEX employee supporting what is happening, this distribution of PPE through this center. So how long have you been working in this particular location?
Adrienne: I have been in this particular location, I believe, about two months off and on, as just watching this thing just grow and grow and grow.
Kathy: So, you two have been working together for a while. How is that working out to have two different agencies that are working together in a location? Tell me how that’s going.
Adrienne: It’s been fantastic for me to learn a lot more about STRAC, in particular. Especially since me coming from the fire service and STRAC, again, they help when we run out of our resources, we call in, and they bring in what we need. So, it’s been neat to kind of see that from the other end of it. And then also coming in as TEEX and just assisting from the state side and understanding what we’re providing and seeing it from the inside.
Kathy: So, and Chase. I just talked to a couple people in the armory from all three agencies. What’s that like on your part to deal with TEEX and also the US Army National Guard that is here in your facility?
Chase: It’s amazing. It’s Texas all in one. Doesn’t matter what agency you’re from, or what branch, or what. We’re working together for a common goal to help the people.
Kathy: Alright, and I know that you are distributing PPE to the end user, so hospitals, nursing homes, dentists. Why is that important? What effect are you having on the state of Texas in being able to do that?
Chase: The healthcare system can stay running. Because without PPE, your doctor can’t come see you without a chance of getting sick, or spreading it. And it just snowballs.
Kathy: Adrienne, what has been your interaction with the cars that come through here to pick up the PPE?
Adrienne: It’s been great seeing people come in, specifically the dentists that have—or the healthcare providers in general—that have truly been hurt by the lack of availability of PPE from their other distributors. Coming in almost in tears saying thank you to us, and all we’re doing, I feel like, is we just load up the cars and give them what we can. But, to get that thank you from them, that genuine thank you when they are just overwhelmed.
Kathy: And then finally, what is one piece of advice that you would give to the citizens of the state of Texas? What’s the one thing that you want them to know about COVID?
Chase: It’s real. It’s not a conspiracy. People are dying. Be smart, social distance, wash your hands, wear your mask. It’s a real thing.
Kathy: And Adrienne, do you have anything to add to that?
Adrienne: Yeah, I agree. You know, just following these rules about protecting yourself and protecting others, and if we all do that as a whole, then we can find an end to this.
Kathy: Thank you both very much, I appreciate it.
Chase: Thank you.
Narrator: Thank you for listening to the Disaster Management Podcast series, brought to you by Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service. Visit www.teex.org for information about training near you.