UTMB Whole Community Preparedness & Response

Air Quality Monitoring

Thanks to the support and generosity of a UTMB President's Cabinet Award (September 2023), we set out with our county partners to improve the air monitoring capabilities and response plans of our shared community.  This puts our region in a better position to respond to toxic chemical releases, avoid preventable deaths, and raise awareness/engagement. This preparedness initiative seeks to build that whole community capability through a healthcare coalition to meet current challenges and lay groundwork for a future that will see a higher concentration of chemical plants in the region. View pictures taken at the award ceremony.

 STRATEGIES:

  • Advisory Committee of community stakeholders and UTMB experts, along with regional partners that include: Galveston County Local Emergency Planning Committee, County Public Health and Emergency Management, City Office of Emergency Management, Texas City School District, Southeast Texas Poison Center, Port of Galveston,  and other stakeholders.
  • Scenario Analysis will allow modeled chemical release scenarios to optimize baseline and post-incident data collection. 
  • Equipment Analysis of current monitoring equipment availability in our region (amongst all partners) to explore the best deployment for sample scenarios. Identify gaps and opportunities for synergy. 
  • Pilot Test for baseline data and (if an actual incident occurs) post-incident data collection. 
  • Disaster Research Methodology will allow testing of data collection plans (e.g., response to a significant unknown chemical odor). 
  • Community Engagement through integrating pilot test data into a community symposium and exercise. 
  • Student Engagement through the creation of a public health practicum using students from the UTMB School of Public and Population Health

BACKGROUND: The Galveston region plays a critical role in our current national energy and chemical supply, and that role is evolving to meet new demands for future energy sources like ammonia and hydrogen. Producing high octane gasoline now -along with the production of ammonia using large volumes of hydrogen in the future- is not without risk of industrial or transportation accidents. Chemical releases have occurred in the past, most notably in 1987 when a release of Hydrogen Fluoride affected the Texas City community. Over one thousand patients were seen at area hospitals. On several occasions a spill or release in a chemical plant or refinery resulted in plant workers being treated in a UTMB emergency room and some required admission to the Level One Burn Unit.

PCA Logo
PCA Advisory 2Nov2023

Advisory & Planning Committee
(Nov 2, 2023)

Joint Vaccination Effort

In January of 2021, the State of Texas designated Galveston County and UTMB as hubs for vaccination. These institutions along with the community partners listed below formalized a Unified Command and Vaccination Incident Command Team. Walter Hall Park in League City was chosen as the location for the mass vaccination hub because that area was conducive to such efforts and it also had the highest concentration of Covid-19 cases in Galveston County at the time. 

The first distribution of vaccines at Walter Hall Park occurred a week later via drive through injections, the effort largely staffed by volunteers. Pictures to the right (provided by the Galveston County Health District) provide a snapshot of these efforts. Other vaccination hub locations were St. Matthews Baptist Church in Hitchcock, the Lake Jackson Civic Center, and St. Vincent's House for underserved communities on Galveston Island.

Community partners: Galveston County Health District, Office of Emergency Management, and Sherriff's Department; Brazoria County Health District and Health Department; League City Office of Emergency Management; University of Texas System; Department of State Health Services; and the Medical Reserve Corps. 

 

LEPC for Chemical Incident Preparedness

Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC) provide information about chemicals in the community to citizens and local businesses. Because many of our patients and facilities are located near industrial chemical plants, UTMB remains at a constant state of readiness. We are part of the Galveston County LEPC, conduct exercises with industry, and we have a priority list of chemical risks and their medical counter-measures. 

More information on LEPCs: https://www.epa.gov/epcra/local-emergency-planning-committees


The Southeast Texas Poison Center (SETPC) is a 24-hour poison emergency treatment and information resource for health care professionals and the public in southeast Texas. It is located at UTMB and is a valuable resource for the community, industry, and local businesses.

More information on SETPC: https://www.utmbhealth.com/services/poison-center/poison-center 

 

UTMB Chem Symposium

Chemical Incident Preparedness Symposium

Community/County Hurricane Preparedness

UTMB is a valued partner of hurricane preparedness activities organized by Galveston and Brazoria Counties. We assist in the pooling of resources, provide insight on medical preparedness, and inform about healthcare services during an emergency. UTMB will remain open for most storms.

Other "Whole Community Preparedness" Activities

Active Shooter Exercise
Active shooter exercise and training at UTMB with campus police, Galveston police, EMS, Fire, UTMB students & faculty.
Operation Blindside - Patient influx from active shooter exercise with scenario taking place at the Kemah Boardwalk.