FOR RELEASE: Dec. 21, 2006

GALVESTON, Texas – The Emergency Management Association of Texas has named the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and the city of Galveston as co-recipients of the 2006 Excellence in Emergency Management Award for their actions during the Hurricane Rita evacuation.

“This award recognizes UTMB and the city for their outstanding efforts in planning and implementing the safe evacuation of Galveston residents in the wake of Hurricane Rita, a category five storm,” said Ed Schaefer, EMAT president.

“Their effort led to a new agreement with the city of Austin to shelter island residents during future evacuations”, he said.

Hurricane Rita threatened the Gulf Coast in late September 2005. Thousands of residents evacuated from Galveston Island including all patients at University of Texas Medical Branch hospitals.

“Soon after our experience in evacuating the city for Hurricane Rita both UTMB and city officials recognized the need for better medical support for many elderly and chronically ill citizens who would be traveling to shelters,” said Mike Megna, UTMB emergency preparedness officer. “Now we have identified volunteers who will be available at the time of evacuation, who will travel on each bus and who will support the shelter managers in the destination cities.”

Megna said that many Rita evacuees were UTMB patients, and UTMB’s support during another evacuation will be reassuring for the people leaving and gratifying for employees and students who have agreed to help.

“It is great to work with local officials on this and to develop such a good plan,” he said.

UTMB team members recognized include Karen Sexton, chief executive officer of UTMB hospitals, Raymond Brouillard, executive assistant, Barbara Thompson, chairwoman of family medicine, Joan Richardson, chief medical officer, and Megna.

The Excellence in Emergency Management Award is presented annually to state and local emergency management projects, activities and campaigns that advance the goals of saving lives and protecting property by mitigating, preparing for, responding to, or recovering from disasters and emergencies in Texas.

Recipients of this award must exemplify model emergency management by developing and implementing an exceptional emergency management project, activity or campaign in Texas during the past year.

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Public Affairs Office
301 University Boulevard, Suite 3.102
Galveston, Texas 77555-0144