Stacey Doud is the Editor-In-Chief of The Grapevine Source. She has lived in Grapevine for over almost 2 years now, and is enjoying serving her community. She is a writer/reporter/photographer/public relations expert. She especially enjoys covering criminal and civil trials as well as feel-good stories and is an avid supporter of law enforcement. She is currently unemployed, but looking! She like planes, trains, automobiles and rockets! The following are just a few examples of her articles. If you’d like to read more, click HERE. To contact Stacey, click HERE.
Visit her LinkedIn page HERE.
May 13, 2019
Like a lot of folks, I like to play games on my phone/tablet. It’s great entertainment when I’m waiting somewhere. It’s also a nice way to “wake up my brain” in the morning, or to just take a break from work/housework.
One of the games I play is a slot game called, “Hit it Rich!”
I got to thinking about how this game mirrors society a bit. When I first started out, the game gave me $3 million, so when I talk about millions, billions and trillions, I’m representing millions as “lower class,” billions as “middle class” and trillions as “upper class,” as far as financial standards in the US go. Yes, there are players that go beyond that in winnings, which would be “the rich upper class.”
When I started playing the slot game, I liked it because it is pretty mindless. It’s a great game to play when I didn’t want to think too much, like I have to with puzzle games and such. It has a feature that gives me extra money as long as I log in every day and spin the bonus wheel. I can request extra coins and free spins from friends, as well as gift to them.
With my initial $3 million, I tended to alternate getting up to $10 million or so or going completely bankrupt. Fortunately, when bankrupt, I logged into the game app every day and spun the wheel to build up enough winnings to play again. It took me several days to get that “baseline” of $3 million back, but eventually I’d reach that goal and be able to spin again.
Now, here are the parallels, which are completely my opinions.
I’m about to talk about federal assistance. I just want to clarify up front that I will be referring to folks who use the system honestly because they really need it, whether temporarily or more long-term. My mother is one of those people, and we are thankful that the system exists and can help her, which helps me, as I’m the only child (and definitely not financially rich).
I looked at those free spins when I was bankrupt as federal assistance and/or a job. I used it honestly, and built up enough money to “live” on (i.e. be able to spin/play). I did not spin until I had that $3 million back, though I easily could have. Of course, some people who depend on federal assistance (including my mom) have to “spin.” They need food, clothing and shelter. Ideally, the bonus wheel spins that they take advantage of every day would represent a job. But it could represent unemployment or just checking the mail every day for the assistance check or volunteering for a cause that is important to that person.
Of course, many people in this country are honestly disabled, so they may not be able to spin at all and rely on collecting the free bonus every day when they login. But the fact that they take the time to login every single day shows perseverance and initiative. The people who skip days or weeks of bonus spins or just keep requesting coins from friends are obviously not committed to the game.
I was playing along in this pattern of “millions to bankrupt” for a long time. I even gave up playing for a while, but I still collected those bonus spins just in case I ever wanted to play again.
Over time, I accumulated a few billion dollars. I could bet higher and, in turn, my wins tended to be worth more. So I was spending more, but my returns were higher. This is not always the case with the middle class. Of course, one hopes to secure a good-paying job so that they can afford to “bet” more (i.e. have some disposable income to enjoy some “luxury” items/activities) now and then. But these days, it is costing us more for “necessities,” such as food, electric service, rent/mortgage, etc. In many instances, the middle class is just able to pay the bills for a lifestyle that takes care of these necessities and that’s about it.
Of course, there are many, many Americans who live beyond their means and “rob Peter to pay Paul.” I liken this to players who actually buy extra coins, spins, etc. with real money. I realize that these are the folks that keep the game available to me for free (along with the inevitable ads) and allow the game company to update and change it from time to time. They are a big source of revenue for the game “economy.”
With my few billion dollars, I started betting higher, and one day, I hit a jackpot! I went from $1 billion or so to $36 trillion…just like that. And guess what? I started getting showered with rewards! I could move up a level in two spins! And each time I moved up, I got a bonus of at least $4 billion.
What. The. Heck?
I don’t need those bonus things. I can bet $20 billion on a spin like it’s nothing. I give coins and free spins to all of my friends that request it. I’m not the one who needs the extras. The “millionaires” do.
Of course, one could make the argument that maybe the millionaires aren’t managing their money well or are not being thrifty or are not using all the resources that the game provides. And I’m sure this is true with many players. But what about the millionaires that are doing everything “right,” but just haven’t hit a jackpot like I did?
I’m sure I don’t have to point out the parallels here. The rich are getting richer, and they get so many perks and free stuff…yet they’re the ones who can afford that stuff if they wanted it!
Why does a rock star get a free meal at a restaurant and regular patrons don’t? It’s bass-ackwards to me. Mr. Leather Pants could afford to buy every patron in the whole restaurant a nice meal, yet his is free? How is that logical?
I know, I know…it makes Leather Pants come back to said eatery and thus attracts his fans, etc. to the establishment. I get the PR/economics of this. I just think it’s stupid.
While Leather Pants makes millions for dropping one album and touring for three months, regular folks are living paycheck to paycheck. I always thought that if I were talented enough to be a pro sports figure, a singer or actress, I’d do a couple of movies/albums/seasons and then retire. I mean, how much money does one really need – or better yet, how much money is one able to spend in a lifetime?
Sure, I could spend $50 billion (real life) dollars before I die, but it would probably be tough. If you doubt me, try this exercise:
Someone gifts you $1,000. This money doubles every day. So on Day 2, you’d get $2,000, then $4,000, then $8,000, etc. It keeps doubling every day, whether you spend it or not. Use the table below to get started. Make sure you list what you buy specifically and estimate the cost to the best of your ability.
|Day||Amount of Deposit||Purchases||Cost of Purchases||Total Cash Left|
Let me know how you do! This is what the rich upper class deals with daily. Sure, they own companies and invest in stuff and give money to charity. But if you try the above exercise, you can see it’s a drop in the bucket.
The bottom line is that, in my opinion, the benefits to the lower, middle and upper classes are upside-down. My little $3 million in the slot game is a distant memory. I am LOADED RICH, baby! But does that make the game more fun? Not. At. All.
April 12, 2019
We haven’t posted a whole lot on The Grapevine Source lately because we were dealing with a family health issue…and I have to say I learned a LOT.
My mother is a total morning person. When I couldn’t get her on the phone by 9am last Saturday, I drove to her apartment, which is about seven minutes away.
I got there and she was indeed in bed, which at 9am is unheard of for her. Everything was dark. I was able to wake her but she was disoriented and basically couldn’t even sit up in bed. She was trying to speak, but it came out in a whisper and made no sense.
So I called 9-1-1. Fortunately, a fire station is right down the road and the EMS/Fire guys were there within minutes. They assessed her, and her vital signs were perfect. But it was obvious that she was not herself, so they took her to Baylor Scott and White Hospital.
To make a long story short, it turned out that my mom had a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). I learned that infections like UTIs can mimic the symptoms of dementia in the elderly. WHO KNEW? The Occupational Therapist explained that the process looks like this: the person slowly stops hydrating as much as he/she should, as well as stops eating right (skipping meals altogether at times); he/she starts to feel yucky generally; then the mental symptoms can start. In my mom’s case, her psychiatric symptoms started sometime late Friday night/early Saturday morning because she was totally lucid and fine when I spoke to her Friday around 5pm.
The infection causes blood to flow to that area so that white blood cells can try to fight it, and some of that blood comes from the brain. When there’s not enough blood to the brain, the person gets confused and dementia-like. I found a pretty good article on this issue at SeniorLiving.org:
“One of the many unseen, hard-to-detect dangers that senior citizens face today is urinary tract infections, more often known as UTIs. Though easily treatable, the symptoms of UTIs in the elderly can often mimic those of other more serious conditions, like dementia. Given that UTIs are one of the most frequent, hidden infections seniors suffer from, it is important to be able to differentiate them from other illnesses, then isolate and eliminate them.
“Older individuals are vulnerable to UTIs for several reasons. The biggest culprit is an immune system weakened by time that increases susceptibility to any infection…Seniors are also more prone to UTIs because they get an assortment of ailments that cause urinary retention. There are certain health conditions they face that make it harder to pass urine, such as diabetes, kidney infections, and kidney stones. In addition to slowing the process of urinating, diabetes raises glucose in the urine, which also increases the likelihood of a UTI. An older person’s inability to urinate properly can then necessitate a catheter, which is difficult to keep sanitary, making them even more vulnerable to the same infection.”
My mom is now back home and doing well. She uses a shower chair now to prevent falls, as her physical body is still a bit unstable. Home health comes by three times a week, and I check on her every day. She wants to maintain her independence, but she’s 73 years old. Fortunately, she is understanding of her limits. She makes a point to drink plenty of water (dehydration/electrolyte imbalances can add to the cognitive symptoms), and eats three meals a day, even if one meal is a nutrition drink.
We learned a lot, and want to prevent this from happening again. I like to think I am a biology nerd and know more than the average bear about how the body works, but I did not know this. It flabbergasted me.
I wanted to share it here so that our readers will know, and hopefully this knowledge can prevent or quickly treat this medical issue in at least one other person…hopefully more.
Have a blessed day and feel free to email questions to me if you have any. I will do my best to answer them (based on my experience) or ask our home health nurse if I do not know the answer.
November 30, 2018
I have been called “grinchy,” a “party pooper” and a “complete holiday ruiner,” but I don’t even care. I HATE the holidays. “Why?” you ask? Let me tell you, my patient readers.
I’m not trying to sway anyone to my way of thinking or to ruin anyone’s holidays. If you don’t want to read a grinchy post, then please move on. But here are my complaints:
- Christmas, which is supposed to celebrate the birth of Christ (even though “they” got the time of year wrong), has turned into a frenzied ball of materialism. I overheard a conversation in a grocery store recently between an adult and a child of about 10 or 12 (I don’t know how they were affiliated…babysitter, aunt, whatever). The child was talking about going to visit her grandparents on Christmas Day. “I’m just gonna go for an hour or two just to eat and get my presents,” the young lady said. It took everything in me not to go over to them and freak out. Is this what Christmas has come to?
- I do NOT need to be bombarded with Christmas carols and decorations from September – December. This just reinforces point one above. Can I please go Trick-or-Treating and celebrate Thanksgiving before you stuff your shiny Christmas balls down my throat? Please?
- Sometimes, family gatherings just suck. Some families don’t get along that well. They would never pick each other to be in their lives if it wasn’t for that blood connection. Yet, if you don’t go spend time with your family, then you suck as bad as your family dynamics. Why get together with people you don’t even like? Sure, someone gets drunk and there’s drama and that can be fun, but mostly, it bites.
- Food, food, food. You or someone you may care a little about slaves away for hours (or days, for that matter) to make a beautiful meal for family and friends. Those piglets come in for 10 minutes, shovel food down their faces and then go watch football or take a nap. Yay you, for working so hard. And then you have to clean everything up after that.
- Gifts: If I get you a $50 gift card and you get me a $50 gift card, then how stupid are we?? I know there are people that put lots of thought into gifts and I’m not talking about you. I’m speaking to my kinfolk (the lazy people). Why not just forgo exchanging gifts with adults and just get stuff for the kids while they still think Christmas is fun?
- Decorations: Yeah, let’s spend hours and tons of money on decorations that will be up for six weeks max! YAY!! Go on vacation instead. It will probably cost about the same.
Yes, I am grinchy. Hopefully, you are not and think I just need a good massage, therapy, psychotropic drugs or something. But if you’re as green and furry as I am, then you feel me.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays and Happy Diwali. If I forgot your religious celebration, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But seriously, THANK YOU for reading. We appreciate each and every one of you and wish you the happiest of holidays!
November 17, 2018
Teens: Believe me, I get it. Sometimes it seems like school is a waste of a day (or a few hours if you’re homeschooled). I’m almost 50 years old and still have never needed to use calculus or had to know the date that Ben Franklin’s mom’s third cousin twice-removed got married (though that “useless knowledge” is awesome for trivia games).
Looking back, it seems like when the holidays came around, we all started to get antsy. Maybe it was looking forward to the upcoming vacation from the drudgery of school or just that we had been going pretty much every day since August, but November and December seemed like the months where my enthusiasm for school tanked.
But the important things about school are not as obvious as a certain subject or teacher or assignment. It’s showing that you can finish something (whether it be grade school, an assignment or college), and that you did it with a little pride. It’s about perseverance and learning how to deal with other people. It’s about finding some kind of path for your life.
Psychologist Jean Piaget broke the adolescent years into stages…and some of it actually makes sense.
“Adolescence, these years from puberty to adulthood, may be roughly divided into three stages: early adolescence, generally ages eleven to fourteen; middle adolescence, ages fifteen to seventeen; and late adolescence, ages eighteen to twenty-one. In addition to physiological growth, seven key intellectual, psychological and social developmental tasks are squeezed into these years. The fundamental purpose of these tasks is to form one’s own identity and to prepare for adulthood.” [Source: HealthyChildren.org]
Adults: Who didn’t try different “looks” or personality traits as a teen? Hopefully you didn’t dye your hair black (before there were ways to re-color) and walk around with half-black and half-brown hair in high school like I did or steal a golf cart for 30 minutes just because you could. But I’m sure there was something you’re not entirely proud of that showed you that the behavior wasn’t you. And hopefully you found some stuff that was you. That was your job at the time. And all the while you thought school was dumb.
Going to school is the job of the typical adolescent. Sure, you may be super-intelligent or be able to recite Pi to the 2,000th number, but school is still your job (along with all the social BS, etc.). And just you wait…when you grow up (as so many of us were in such a hurry to do), you’re most likely going to have to go to some kind of job every day. If you’re blessed, you’ll enjoy your job and it won’t feel like “work” per se.
But in the meantime, just do your current job, even if you don’t completely understand why you have to do it. It will all become clear some day, and if it doesn’t, please don’t forget to drop me a line and tell me I’m full of crap.
You’ll get through these years. The extreme emotions will die down. Look to the people who love you for help, whether it be with an assignment, a feeling or anything else that’s troubling you. I know you think adults are stupid, but most of us have been where you are and can at least listen and empathize.
On that note, enjoy your Thanksgiving break (if you’re a ‘Murrican) and always remember that there’s more to the story than you think. And PLEASE think a lot and think often.
For further reading on doing well even when you consider your job useless, as well as other tips, tricks, scholarship opportunities and raw dialogue, click HERE.
August 3, 2018
7 Pounds, starring Will Smith, is by no means a new movie, as it was released in 2008. Co-stars include Woody Harrelson, Rosario Dawson and Michael Ealy (known for his dark skin and blue eyes).
I think what drew me to re-watch this movie was my wavering thoughts and feelings about human “goodness.” I used to believe that people were innately good, but this last decade or so had me wondering if my belief still stood true in my own heart.
We hear and read about so many bad, tragic or senseless things these days. Even I, who has not voluntarily watched a news program in over 20 years, am not immune. These stories and events push through somehow: Maybe a friend says something or sends a text. Maybe there’s something on my Facebook timeline that I just “had” to click on. Maybe I overhear a conversation by the water cooler. The point is that it is almost impossible not to be privy to some news on a day-to-day basis.
When I say that I’m watching, “7 Pounds,” people tell me that it tore them up or they just couldn’t bring themselves to watch it. There are a few reasons why I think it’s worthy to watch or re-watch:
- It addresses how tough we can be on ourselves: I don’t know how I would react if my spouse, child, friend or whomever died in a vehicular accident with me at the wheel. I suspect I’d have to at least do a stint in a psychiatric facility or see a therapist every day for a while; however, accidents DO happen. And I know that Smith’s character (Ben/Tim) never purposefully harmed his spouse. Yet, he persecuted and punished himself to the max. His final “plan” was noble, but, in my humble opinion, unnecessary. I believe that the human spirit can overcome almost anything, especially if he/she has a source of faith.
- It illustrates kindness to others: Yes, Tim is on the super-extreme end of the spectrum of things that can go awry in one’s life, but he was able to turn his pain and guilt into something beautiful for seven other people. I’d never advocate for suicide, but Tim had his mind made up; yet he chose to leave so much beauty behind in the form of his bone marrow, corneas, his heart and other vital organs. He even “vetted” the recipients of his gifts for himself, supposedly to make sure he was donating to “good” people. Of course, whether folks are bad, neutral or good is subjective, but I understood what the movie was trying to convey. And whether we want to accept it or not, suicide IS one option for people in distress. We might not like it or want it, but, like so much else, what others do is not under our control.
- It demonstrates how a tragedy can be transformed: Don’t get me wrong…being the driver in a fatality accident is tragic, and always will be, no matter the circumstances. And even though I am not, and would not ever be, an advocate for Tim (or anyone) to kill himself, he does make seven other people’s lives better by taking his own life. The movie makes it clear that he puts an enormous amount of thought into how he would die to make sure that his donations were best preserved, and who he wanted to help. With the assistance of a lawyer and a brother who tried their best to understand and respect his wishes, Tim was almost an “angel on Earth” for most of the people he donated his organs to.
- LOVE: Just love. Even though Tim fell in love with Rosario Dawson’s Emily, he still felt that it was more important to “fulfill his mission” than to blow it off to be with her. With so many people acting selfishly and seemingly only caring about themselves these days, it was refreshing to see Tim put other people first, even though he probably could have had a relationship with Emily. I personally think he punished himself needlessly, but the way he did it was full of love…perhaps it was his way of paying the love that he and his deceased spouse had for one another forward to help others.
THE BOTTOM LINE: I can honestly give this film 4 out of 5 stars. I’m sure many readers will wonder how crazy I am to do that, but I believe that if you watch this movie in the spirit with which it was made, you’ll laugh, cry, scream and jump for joy. And isn’t that what movies are supposed to do for us? They strive to make us feel. And “7 Pounds” absolutely fits the bill. Just have some tissues handy!
★★★★ out of 5
May 24, 2018
Last night (May 23), the first Grapevine Citizens Police Academy (CPA) Class held in the new Public Safety Building graduated at The REC. Class 36 was made up of 30+ members of the community. Over 14 weeks, the class covered topics such as SWAT, Criminal Investigations (CID), K-9 Division and Community Services.
The event began with some words from Sgt. Jason Keller, who oversees the CPA. After some fun with door prizes, Lt. Larry Hallmark gave the benediction, and students, spouses and Officers enjoyed a BBQ dinner by A.J.’s on Main. Volunteers from the Alumni Association and Volunteers in Police Service (ViPS) served the food, along with a few of the Officers, who honored the “Serve” portion of “Protect and Serve.”
The keynote speaker was new Chief Michael Hamlin, who emphasized that the key to a safe community is the relationships between the public and the police. When citizens see something and say something, it defends our beautiful community against the other side of the thin blue line.
Graduates received a certificate of completion, and some special “silly” awards were given out as well. Graduates are now eligible to join the volunteer organizations: Grapevine Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association (GCPAAA) and Volunteers in Police Service (ViPS) if they so choose.
The CPA is held twice a year in the spring and fall. For more information, visit https://www.grapevinetexas.gov/487/Citizens-Police-Academy or contact Sgt. Jason Keller at 817-410-3206.
May 8, 2018
It’s Week 13 of the Grapevine Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy. The topic was Community Relations, and five speakers informed students about this division.
Sergeant Jason Keller emphasized “Unity in the Community” as being one of their best tools for keeping the crime rate down in Grapevine. When citizens and police work together, it makes our community a safer place.
Senior Officers Caldwell, Cabrera and Huski spoke about their roles as School Resource Officers (SRO). Each Officer is assigned to a local school, and some officers “check in” on other schools in the district. Not only do they build relationships with students and identify at-risk kids, but they are there in case of trouble or violence from students, parents or even a stranger with a gun.
Haydee Hall, LMSW spoke about the Community Outreach Center on Mustang Drive. They provide 1st – 5th graders a safe place to go in case parents are working or otherwise engaged after school. This helps keep them off the streets, provides homework help and also a snack and a hot meal. They also provide some classes for adults and a summer camp.
Officer O’Neal entertained students with his often humorous description of his position as Property Liaison. His task is to get to know troubled families and help them when things go sideways.
The Citizens Police Academy is held twice a year at the Public Safety Building. It consists of 14 weeks of information and training. Graduates may go on to volunteer with the Police Department in several capacities. For more information, click HEREor call Sgt. Jason Keller at 817.410.3206.
October 29, 2017
Hello all you folks out there on the Interweb,
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Stacey and I moved to the Grapevine area in June 2017. I lived in Pearland, TX (just south of Houston) for the last 20 years of my life, so moving to the Metroplex involved a little culture shock, to my surprise. I mean, I’m still in Texas, right?
But the humidity is lower, causing me to stock my cabinets with lotion, the allergens are different, and I spent the first six weeks or so on antibiotics for sinus problems. I’ve never heard of some of the restaurants, and some food chains are no longer in existence in Houston, though I recognize some from my childhood (Taco Bueno and 7-11 being two examples). HEB was a grocery store, not an abbreviation for three different cities. Tom Thumb is Randall’s down south. And to get to the nearest adjoining city, I had to drive 20 – 30 minutes in Houston, whereas here I can be in a different town in about two minutes.
I got to know so many wonderful people in Pearland, mostly because of my job at The Pearland Journal. I even find municipal activities interesting (yes, I pay attention in City Council meetings!). I’m looking forward to getting to know the people in my new community and look forward to volunteering where I can. I was an active volunteer with the Pearland Police Department, and am attending Grapevine PD‘s Citizen Police Academy, so maybe I can be of service to the agency here.
Anyway, my point is that, despite of all of these changes, I have been pleasantly surprised with this community. Everywhere I go, people are friendly and customer service is actually a thing. Some folks have gone out of their way to help me, the newcomer, navigate my new world.
I hope that The Grapevine Source will come to be as helpful to my community as The Pearland Source was in my old stomping grounds. If any of you have a suggestion for a new section of The Source, have press releases or event announcements or would like The Source to cover your event, please let us know. It is our desire to be of service to our community!
As The Source grows, we will be offering ad space. If you’re interested in advertising your business here, please inquire! Rates are VERY low right now as we introduce ourselves and get acclimated.
Stacey Doud, M.A.
Want to learn more? Visit my LinkedIn page!
July 8, 2016
This has gone too far. There may have been unjustified shootings by police in Louisiana and Minnesota. We don’t even know the facts yet. Now snipers assault the DALLAS, TEXAS Police Department during a peaceful-until-then protest. What does Dallas have to do with Louisiana or Minnesota?
This has got to stop. Killing because of killing doesn’t make sense, even though humans have done it since the beginning of time. I understand anger and even rage. If it had been my relative or friend killed by a cop in LA or MN, I’d be PISSED. But standing here in Pearland, Texas, I am scratching my head. Why this violence in a place that has nothing to do with anything?
I place a lot of blame on the media, especially television. All of the major networks are owned by folks that have ties to one place: our government. Just flip through the channels and you will hear very similar, if not verbatim, statements read by the newsperson. That’s because those remarks are passed down to them by the same source. And it doesn’t matter if those statements are true or just speculation…or just plain false. Much of society trusts outlets like CNN, FOX, ABC and NBC. What they say becomes fact in many minds.
Then, social contagion takes over. I’m mad, so you’re mad, then everyone is mad. It spreads like a nasty virus over social media and around the water cooler.
A war has been going on since Michael Brown died in Ferguson, MO on August 9, 2014. Perhaps it had been a cold war until then.
As a law enforcement supporter, I would never say that there are no “bad” cops. There are. And they are everywhere. But let the Grand Jury decide if a shooting was justified or not. Suck it up and look at both sides. I hate it when I research a shooting and come to the conclusion that the police officer was in the wrong, but I have no problem admitting that. I am not a blind cheerleader of police.
The main reason I am a supporter is because I know intimately how tough their jobs are. And I also know I could never do it. It’s not because they’re cute in their uniforms or I’m trying to bed someone. It’s because I respect the profession. I DON’T respect those that abuse it. But does this abuse warrant more death?
My thoughts and prayers are with Dallas PD and Transit Police. It is my hope that the officers in LA and MN get what’s coming to them based on facts, not speculation or mass hysteria, whether it be an indictment or not. Every life matters, but the way we, as a nation, are acting, it seems like the opposite.
August 2, 2015
Shots rang out down the hallways of Rogers Middle School, but I couldn’t look up to see where they were coming from: I was dead.
As a volunteer with the Pearland Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association(PCPAAA), I had the unique opportunity to participate in Active Threat Integrated Response Course (ATIRC) training, which brings together first responders to learn to quickly enter into harm’s way to neutralize a shooter and get the wounded out to higher levels of care during Active Shooter Events (ASE).
ASEs are situations like Columbine and the recent movie theater shootings in Lafayette, LA in which one or more people armed with weapons threaten and/or kill innocent victims, usually in highly populated areas.
The training was provided to members of the Pearland Police and Fire/EMS Departments at no cost to the City by The Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University (ALERRT), which is 100% grant funded.
After some instruction and three “pat downs” to make sure we had no weapons at 8am, we were instructed to go to a room where ALERRT instructors waited to give us realistic-looking wounds and to give us direction as to our acting.
Some of us lost legs, some were disembowled, several had head wounds (including me, which is what “killed” me) and one lost the bottom part of his jaw. The lucky ones were just grazed or unharmed altogether.
Volunteers performed in four scenarios, each lasting between 45 – 90 minutes. ALERRT instructors would stage each scenario while officers and EMS/fire personnel waited off-site. After everything was set, an instructor would broadcast a “shots fired” alert across the radio channel they were using. Patrol cars, ambulances and fire trucks arrived at the scene and the intense coordination inside began.
“Integration between Fire and Police Departments in a critical incident is essential for a successful outcome,” said Pearland Police Lt. Kevin Nichols, who is also an adjunct instructor for ALERRT. “This type of innovative training will help prepare the first responders of this city to overcome the challenges that such integration presents. It was also a great opportunity to build rapport and camaraderie between the two agencies.”
Indeed, it was all about teamwork. All “police vs. fire” jokes were set aside as the participants concentrated on the task at hand. ALERRT instructors went above and beyond to make everything as realistic as possible. Volunteers screamed in terror, moaned in pain and laid motionless, no matter what happened, if they were “dead.”
As I mentioned before, I got “shot in the head,” so I had to lay, eyes transfixed and breathing as shallowly as possible, on the floor of a classroom with my head resting on a resin blood pool, for about 35 minutes. Because I was a casualty and nothing could be done for me, I was one of the last volunteers removed from the scene. EMS came by to check my pulse to make sure I was indeed expired. Eventually Officer Oscar Pena bent over me, flung me over his shoulder and deposited me (albeit gently) into a room where the victims were being treated according to the seriousness of their injuries. (Sorry for the back ache, Officer Pena!)
Some volunteers were put in “the box” (ambulance) and taken away. Some had to have emergency tracheotomies (on a prop throat…no worries!). Some had the task of wailing for an expired “loved one.”
Because of the seriousness of these exercises, there was a lot of “barking” going on from police and EMS. Following their directions was paramount to getting everyone treated and extracted in the fastest time possible.
During the next scenario, I sat out as a volunteer and put my photographer hat on.
I stood to the side, out of the way, as I heard the shots fired in a different hallway (blanks were used). The sound reverberated around the building, and the school setting made it quite alarming, even though I knew there was no real danger.
Within minutes, squad cars arrived at the school, some driving across the grass to get into position. Tactical teams surrounded the school with pre-planned precision. Ambulances and fire trucks came soon after, deviating from the “usual” hang-back-and-see-if-they-need-us stance. Fire and EMS personnel were quick to be briefed and followed the officers’ leads.
Some officers had to render “battlefield medicine” aid on the scene to victims who would not survive if they waited. Some EMS personnel had to think outside the box and render advanced first aid until the victim was able to be extracted.
In one scenario, an officer was shot in the leg. He applied a tourniquet to himself and got up to continue helping his fellow first responders. This was actually the first time that ALERRT had ever used an “officer down” in any scenario. The instructors said that the police officers did, “Exactly what they were
supposed to do. If your buddy is shot and there’s still killing going on, you have to leave him.”
The “bad guys” were either arrested or killed in each scenario fairly quickly, freeing up personnel to tend to the victims.
“It’s wonderful to see the Pearland Emergency Responder Communities all come together to train,” said Terry Nichols, a retired San Marcos police officer, one of the founders of ALERRT and their Curriculum Director. “It speaks volumes about what they’re trying to achieve organizationally as a City to prepare for one of these catastrophic events.”
In the end, while we all hope that Pearland never has to deal with an ASE, I know that I, as a citizen, feel much more optimistic about a good outcome if it should ever happen.
For more information about ALERRT, visit http://www.alerrt.org.
To view the slideshow, click HERE.
To read more of Stacey’s articles, click HERE.