Superion ONESolution Empowers Bold Hurricane Response for League City
When disasters hit, the natural instinct is to take cover and escape from danger. But for first responders, that instinct takes a turn in the other direction, to run toward the danger. It’s this instinct that drove the League City Police Department’s extraordinary, coordinated response during one of the most destructive natural disasters to hit the United States in decades.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in the United States on August 25 at peak intensity near Rockport, Texas. The strongest hurricane to hit Texas since Carla in 1961, Harvey slowly traveled inland and stalled along the coastline before weakening to a tropical storm. The slow pace of the storm resulted in an unprecedented amount of rainfall over the state. Many areas received more than 40 inches of rain, causing catastrophic flooding that measured as high as ten feet in some areas.
The wettest tropical cyclone recorded in the United States, Harvey posed particular challenges for public safety agencies. Flooding wreaked havoc on the physical and visual landscape of much of eastern Texas, leading to further challenges such as blocked roadways, street-level hazards, inaccessible buildings, disabled vehicles, and inoperable equipment. Engaging standard rescue protocols was not an option.
Faced with these challenges, the League City Police Department mobilized a bold response that defied standard operating procedures.
As the host agency for more than 20 law enforcement, fire and emergency management agencies, League City connects with multiple towns and cities through the GRID Consortium. The consortium is responsible for responding to the needs of communities that span across three counties in the Gulf Coast region of Texas.
During Harvey, a number of the consortium’s agencies flooded, crippling their dispatch centers. Fortunately, as consortium members, they remained connected through Superion ONESolution.
“Superion played a critical role in these Gulf Coast agencies being able to deliver critical services,” said Darrell Keleman, Support Service Bureau Commander and Reserve Captain, League City PD.
“Because of the dynamic connectivity that Superion software provides, those public safety agencies were able to move their dispatch centers to other consortium agencies, and continue dispatching as if they were in their own building.”
The unprecedented flooding meant high-water rescues became a top priority. But with a limited number of high-water vehicles, the department relied on the assistance of volunteer boats, high-water vehicles and ATVs to mobilize its workforce and respond to more than 2,000 rescue requests in just the first two days of flooding.
Additionally, as dispatch centers became inundated with calls from people trapped in their homes, radio traffic also reached peak capacity. Rescuers in high-water areas were working without MCT or computers, so they had to rely on radio communication, further complicating dispatch center operations.
“We were radioing calls for service to field units serving in multiple high-water vehicles as calls were coming in. Wading through and prioritizing hundreds of calls quickly became overwhelming.”
Connecting that mobile workforce to mission-critical information clearly presented a daunting challenge. Previously, the agency was unable to provide CAD to high-water rescue units. That’s when the power of mobile technology, smart GPS mapping and real-time hazard alerts – all fully integrated in ONESolution – proved critical.
“The Freedom mobile app was an absolutely critical piece of software for us. When there’s six to eight feet of water over a roadway, it’s difficult for first responders in a boat or on a jet ski to figure out exactly where they are in a community.”
Freedom instantaneously connected field units with CAD, RMS, alerts, GPS maps and more, all via smartphones. This freed them from having to get through the crush of emergency calls via radio traffic. The dispatch center no longer faced confusion over which personnel were on high water rescue one, which field units were on rescue two, etc.
“Our teams were able to log in and actually see where these calls were coming from. They could position themselves based on where the calls are happening.”
By August 29, approximately 13,000 people had been rescued across Texas. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, more than 185,000 homes were damaged and 9,000 destroyed.
The severity of these impacts led to an unprecedented number of calls for help. For League City, that meant relying on ONESolution to handle more than 1,000 simultaneous calls at any given time. The system stayed “rock solid” during the storm and enabled League City to perform more than 2,000 rescues over two days.
“I have no doubt that the system helped us save lives.”