The Cypress Creek Communications Center was named Telecommunicator of the Year at the 2017 Texas EMS Conference in Fort Worth. The Award was accepted by Comm Center Manager Niky Smith along with Nicole Hoover, Melissa Dyches, and Destiny Petty.
The award was based largely on the incredible work done by the Comm Center during and immediately after Hurricane Harvey when hundreds of homes and businesses were flooded.
From August 25 to August 31, the Cypress Creek Communications Center answered more than 12,000 calls, representing more than 5400 actual incidents, the majority of which were water rescue calls. The Comm Center handles 9-1-1 and dispatch for a total of 16 emergency agencies including fire departments along Cypress Creek and Spring Creek in North Harris County, two departments in the Katy Area, one in the Mission Bend area of SW Harris County and Pearland Fire and EMS. At first, those departments had more calls that they had boats but after a call for civilian help from Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, people with boats began showing up in the CCEMS parking lot and other staging areas ready to go to work. With the help of the Fire Desk and Harris County Sheriff’s Deputies in our Emergency Operations Center we paired up boats with the departments who needed them until all the water rescue calls had been answered. Here’s a look, by agency, at the number of calls. The total number of incidents was 5,426. During the same period one week earlier the total for all the agencies was 1834. That’s a 196% increase. There were multiple calls from different people on the some of the same incidents, so at one point the number of calls registered a 614% increase over normal call volume.
It was an extremely busy week for the call takers, dispatchers, and supervisors in the Comm Center and the Senior Supervisors in our (EOC) Emergency Operations Center which is located in the Comm Center. Call takers, dispatchers, and their supervisors worked, slept and ate at the Comm Center until the call volume dropped back into the normal range.Classrooms in the CCEMS Education Center were turned into dorm rooms with cots for the extra field crews.
Although most of the 9-1-1 calls were for water rescue, there was also an elevated number of calls for ambulances. The calls included chest pains, cardiac arrests, and babies who weren’t going to wait for the water to go down to be born.
The EOC created an online map of impassible areas and helped route ambulances around high water to get to patients AND to get patients to hospitals. At one point only the northbound lanes of 45 were open to take patients to the trauma center at Memorial Hermann Woodlands, so we had to use a police escort and go the wrong way on I-45 with lights and sirens to return to our territory. CCEMS scouts were sent out periodically to report back on what areas were still impassable and what areas were not and we constantly compared notes with law enforcement on road conditions.
After Harvey, Comm Center Supervisor Lori Broadrick put her thoughts on the storm into words, which became one of the most viewed articles ever posted on the CCEMS News Page. You can read it here.
In addition to Cypress Creek EMS, the Comm Center handled 9-1-1 and dispatch for the following agencies in 2017.
Stafford Fire Department (added after Hurricane Harvey)