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“Texas Strong” is the theme of annual emergency/disaster response training conference

Texas Border Business

McALLEN – The eighth annual South Texas All Hazards Conference will be held Wednesday, March 25 and Thursday, March 26, 2020, at the McAllen Performing Arts Center and McAllen Convention Center in McAllen, Texas. 

The South Texas All Hazards Conference is the second largest training conference of its type in the state of Texas and is the only conference offered at no charge to the invited participants. More than 3,000 individuals from public health, public safety, public works, incident and emergency management and various law enforcement, first responders and educational institutions who are seeking to enhance their skills and knowledge are expected to attend. 

The conference is open to local, state or federal personnel who respond to emergencies, including natural disasters or those caused by humans.

The conference follows the National Incident Management System (NIMS) in organization and execution, which has become a model for others. NIMS is a standardized approach to incident management developed by the Department of Homeland Security to facilitate coordination between all responders.

“In this day and age, we must take every opportunity to train, not only our first responders but also the support staff, in the unified command structure because, during an emergency, NIMS ensures that crucial information is communicated,” said Ricardo Saldaña, Hidalgo County Emergency Management Coordinator. “All you have to do is watch the news to know that emergencies can come in any form and from any source.”

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The conference provides leaders, decision-makers, healthcare clinicians, preparedness professionals and first responders with opportunities for networking, resource sharing, scholarly exchange, and continuing education. Attendees will receive continuing education credits through Texas A&M Engineering Extension Services (TEEX) and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The theme “Texas Strong” represents the quick, unfailing and efficient response to emergencies and natural disasters, found throughout the state of Texas not only from those in law enforcement, first responders and other corresponding agencies but also from everyday citizens who rally together to help their fellow Texans whenever disaster strikes.  According to Chief W. Nim Kidd of the Texas Emergency Management System, Texas has more disasters than any other U.S. state.    

The conference is split into six educational tracks: Public Health and Hospitals; Emergency Response; Law Enforcement; Educational Institutions; Faith-Based and Non-Profits; and COOP Continuity of Operations Planning for Business with more than 65 presenters from the Texas Division of Emergency Management, U. S. Custom & Border Protection, NationalWeather Service, Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Department of Public Safety, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Union Pacific Railroad, Coast Guard, and FBI, FEMA and other federal, state, local and non-profit agencies.

Confirmed speakers include Commissioner of Health John Hellerstadt, M.D., Texas Department of State Health Services and Chief David Coatney, Director/CEO of TEEX.  

“TEEX is honored to be a sponsor of the 2020 South Texas All Hazards Conference.  The relationships we have with the agencies across South Texas, the collaboration to accomplish goals and the quality of the conference programs will indeed keep Texas Strong!  Thank you for all that you do,” said Director Coatney.

Additionally, Admiral Bret Giroir, United States Assistant Secretary of Health and Dr. Alexander Eastman, Senior Medical Officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will be a part of the roster of speakers during the conference.

Also ongoing during the STAHC will be Immunization Summit, which is an opportunity for immunization leaders and health care providers to come together to network and learn ways to address immunization barriers and improve immunization rates across the lifespan. 

Some of the confirmed conference topics include Opioids in the Workplace; Human Trafficking in Schools; Responder Health; Agroterrorism: Threats and Response; PTSD for First Responders; Texas Rabies Control; Ports and Bridges Preparedness; and Public Works and Emergency Response.  Additionally, a Media Response and Communications training workshop will be held on Thursday, March 26 at 1:30 p.m.  The tabletop training session will be open to all general managers, publishers, editors, news directors, and reporters, as well as organization spokespersons.  Media wishing to attend this session must register as a conference participant, as well as register for press credentials.

Registration for all interested in attending is now open and can be accessed at https://my.teex.org/TeexPortal/?MO=mExtLogin.

For more information, please call (956) 318-2426 or visit the website https://www.hidalgocounty.us/1464/2020-South-Texas-All-Hazards-Conference.

Hotels with special rates for the STAHC include La Quinta, Embassy Suites, and Cambria, which are all properties located directly on the McAllen Convention Center Campus, as well as Springhill Suites; Smart iStay; Hampton Inn & Suites; Homewood Suites; Radisson Hotel; Wingate; Wyndham Garden; Best Western Rose Garden.

Due to NIMS protocol, the exhibit hall, workshops and training sessions will be closed to media and the public. However, news professionals are invited to the opening ceremony, plenary sessions and news conference on Wednesday, March 25 at the McAllen Performing Arts Center, which will include most of the key presenters and organizers.

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