How first responders tackled Wednesday’s wind storm

How first responders tackled Wednesday’s wind storm
Potter County Fire and Rescue responds to a turned-over RV during Wednesday's wind storm. (Source: KFDA)

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Amarillo emergency dispatchers responded to a substantial increase in 911 calls yesterday as the wind blew through our area, damaging power lines, homes and businesses.

How first responders tackled Wednesday’s wind storm

During Wednesday's wind storm, the Amarillo Emergency Communications Center responded to more than 700 emergency calls.

Including regular calls for service, the Amarillo Police Department responded to about 600 calls.

The Amarillo Fire Department responded to about 300.

“The Communications Center is an integral part of the whole 911 system,” said Jeremy Hill, AFD Captain and co-manager of Amarillo Emergency Communications Center. “We did our part yesterday, we filled the calls for services and we got the responders sent where they needed to be. So it was controlled chaos, I’d like to say.”

Some of the calls AFD and APD responded to were downed power lines, trampolines blowing out of backyards, and roofs coming off of buildings throughout Amarillo.

“Once the first call is made and the 911 calls come in, as soon as they clear a call, then they will just respond to the next call from wherever they’re at,” said Dana Havlik, Training Chief at the Amarillo Fire Department. “Many times you would see trucks in town that were assigned to particular areas in town and they would be on the other side of town, because they would just respond to call to call from across the city.”

“I myself, driving around, saw trampolines blowing places, roofs, signs, I know there was a restaurant here in town that had a sign go down through its roof so we had to respond to that,” said Sgt. Carla Burr, with the Amarillo Police Department. “There was an apartment building here in town that the roof caved in, so we responded to that here as well.”

The Potter County Sheriff’s Office usually responds to 25 to 35 calls a day.

On Wednesday, they responded to over 100 calls, while its dispatch was on emergency power as the power kept cutting in and out.

“A lot of those were what we marked down as traffic hazards instead of traffic accidents,” Sheriff Brian Thomas with the Potter County Sheriff’s Office. “I think we spent the majority of the day out on 287 North with turned over semi rigs. It seems like every time we got one fixed up, then another one of them would come out and blow over.”

Communication between departments helped first responders get to the scene quickly for those in need.

Amarillo Fire says its’ new radio system was a big help.

“With our new digital system, our communication was a lot clearer and we had multiple channels that we could assign an apparatus to, throughout the city,” said Havlik. “It made communication a lot better, a lot safer and it made us a lot more efficient.”

The Potter County Sheriff’s Office says the response of all first responders was an integral part of keeping everyone safe.

“It shows how hard we’re working out there, all of us. When I say us, I’m talking all of our first responders,” said Sheriff Thomas. “Our fire department was out, especially in Potter County. We have only four paid staff as far as our fire department, so the rest of those guys were volunteers. They either have to leave their work or they were off. Thankfully, they were able to be out there because they were responding to just as many calls as we were, especially with the power lines down.”

Copyright 2019 KFDA. All rights reserved.