Tom McDonald discusses the catastrophic storm that struck the coast of Texas and the lessons learned by fire-rescue personnel. Around 2 A.M. on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008, the eye of Hurricane Ike passed over the eastern tip of the island of Galveston, TX. The city of the same name, which takes up...
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Such officers should obtain copies of fire department hurricane policies in these cities and review them with field officers who have experienced actual working conditions in such storms. Understanding the catastrophic effects of storm surge is especially important. Evaluate the potential use for different types of watercraft and for high-axle vehicles like dump trucks before, during, and after hurricanes.
Mandatory evacuations will not be popular with many residents, especially those in areas that have not experienced a major hurricane for a generation or more. It is human nature to feel as though any problem can be met head-on, and most people do not like to be forced from their homes for something that might happen.
Just like in a fire, if a victim is trapped where it is unsafe or impractical for firefighters to go, then rescue attempts should not be made. When hurricane conditions make it unsafe and impractical for fire department units to continue operating, the fire chief should order responses to cease until conditions improve.
TOM McDONALD retired this year as a senior captain with the Houston, TX, Fire Department after a 26-year career. He still serves as a captain for the Southside Place, TX, Volunteer Fire Department.