North of Houston lies Montgomery County, Texas, where easy access to I-45 has made the area a popular place to live. But its location near the Gulf of Mexico also requires residents be prepared for the Atlantic hurricane season which occurs between June and November.
In September 2015, Montgomery became the first county in Texas to adopt Rave Mobile Safety’s Rave 911 Suite, which provides additional data and communications tools to 911. The service, provided in conjunction with Lyme Computer Systems (GSA) and Rave Mobile Safety, enabled county residents to create Smart911 Safety Profiles at www.smart911.com and provide medical, family member and location information directly to 911 and first responders.
Another component of the Rave 911 Suite, Chat, allows call-takers to quickly resolve and respond to the high rate of abandoned 911 calls. When someone calling for assistance hangs up or is disconnected, call-takers can send a text from 911 to the caller to determine if they are in need of emergency response. Officials also chose to switch to Rave Alert in order to have one platform for emergency notifications. Trainings were conducted early in the year in preparation for hurricane season.
“We are proud to partner with Montgomery County to assist them with their emergency response,” said Todd Piett, president and CEO of Rave Mobile Safety. “Their geographical location requires extra vigilance during the Atlantic hurricane season and their focus on keeping residents safe and training staff to be confident with new technology prior to the season became essential for keeping their residents’ safe during Hurricane Harvey.”
Beginning Aug. 17, 2017, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) began monitoring activity off the western coast of Africa. On Aug. 23, the storm quickly strengthened into a Category 3 before becoming a Category 4 later that evening. On the morning of Aug. 26, Harvey made landfall at peak intensity in Rockport, Texas, with 130 mph winds.
Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of emergency for 50 counties by the time it was over, including Montgomery. Prior to the landfall of Hurricane Harvey, the county had 3,784 profiles registered; that number increased to 6,635 profiles during the state of emergency.
With the increase of profiles, dispatchers also saw an increase of calls during the storm. In total, the county received 5,403 911 calls and 11,582 calls for assistance on their administration/non-emergency line for a total of 16,985 calls from Aug. 25 to Sept. 1.
911 chat sessions also proved invaluable during the storm, with 296 sessions initiated and 67 responses back to dispatchers, resulting in just three situations where emergency response was required, including one resident who required EMT assistance for burns and shortness of breath after extinguishing a fire.
Given the nature of the state of emergency, it was not surprising that Montgomery County needed to send out a significant amount of weather alerts. During the week period, it sent 247 automated weather alerts. Additional alerts were pushed to areas requiring mandatory evacuation. Three mandatory flood flood alerts also were sent.
During the month of August and throughout the response to Hurricane Harvey, Montgomery County provided its residents with 506,076 emails, 12,254 text messages, and 249,567 phone calls to be better prepared and safe throughout the emergency.
“We are pleased with the assistance the Rave platform provided our dispatchers and first responders during Hurricane Harvey,” said Chip Vansteenberg, executive director of Montgomery County 911. “Rave was a vital part of our response to this storm and kept both our residents and responders’ safer during the otherwise tragic events.”