Auxiliarist Deployment for Harvey Relief Efforts from Flotilla 75 Austin, TX

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Written by Nicholas Teague and Robert Yslas

Within a period of three months, three different hurricanes hit the United States and its territories. It was and continues to be an unprecedented episode in American history as our country continues to recovery efforts in Texas, Florida, and now in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Already stretched thin from Hurricane Harvey, the U.S. Coast Guard pushed through hours of rescue and recovery efforts, saving hundreds of lives. For the first time in years, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary was notified that their support was needed for relief efforts and hundreds from around the country answered the call. The follow highlights the deployment experience of Auxiliarist from Flotilla 75 in Austin, Texas.

Six members from Flotilla 75 Austin, TX answered the call to deploy in support of hurricane Harvey relief efforts. One of these members, Auxiliarist Nicholas Teague was assigned to support USCG Air Station Houston with search and rescue efforts in the Air Station’s Communication Center. Mr. Teague worked as a Telecommunications Watch Stander and Helicopter Coordinator. He oversaw the assignment of helicopters to individual search and rescue cases, and communicated latitude and longitude, patient status, and landing conditions directly with pilots and crew to ensure persons in need of rescue, medical assistance, or evacuation were found and extracted safely.

Mr. Teague personally oversaw 51 rescues and 13 assists during his operational periods. Usually Auxiliarist are not placed in a leadership position over active-duty or reserve personnel, but under the incident command system it is possible based upon training and qualification. Due to his training and experience he oversaw Air Station Houston Communications Center operations during the night shift in the absence of the Communication Center Air Boss. This unique role allowed the Coast Guard Auxiliary to work side-by-side with US Army, US Air Force, and US Coast Guard Officers and Enlisted personnel. This was the definition of a unified command and joint service operation.

Auxiliarist Abel Garcia, Stephanie Long and Berhilo Galvan were assigned to the Air Operations Branch at the Sector Houston-Galveston Incident Command Post. In their roles, each were charged with inputting data after receiving phone calls from persons in distress, needing rescue, evacuation, or medical aid. They then input this information into a search and rescue tracking system and assigned individual case numbers. Additionally Mr. Garcia assisted in writing computer code for this new and innovative system that was temporarily put in place due to Rescue 21 being off-line. Auxiliarist Zachary Calovic and Micah Vickers were tasked with a logistical support mission and delivered supplies to a FEMA Camp in Conroe, Texas.

During this operation, cooperation and coordination with active duty and reserve Coast Guard forces was at an optimum. Most Auxiliarists were referred to and treated as officers equal to their position insignia, despite common knowledge of their status as Auxiliarists. The term Auxiliarist was almost never used, but LT, Lieutenant, or Sir was the norm.  This change in approach made operations smoother and more efficient. We wish to thank all Auxiliarists from around the country for their willingness to deploy to conditions unknown for the sole purpose of helping others in need. We especially thank those members who were actively deployed and supported the relief efforts. Your sacrifice, time, and dedication exemplify our common Coast Guard motto of Semper Paratus! Bravo Zulu!

 

Comments


  1. John (Jake) Parker says:

    BZ to everyone involved. Honored to be part of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and to see our shipmates lending a hand and working closely with our active duty and reserve brothers and sisters for such an urgent need of assistance.


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