Jarvis, Pickett and Vithalani: After-action report – The Texas blizzard of 2021

5 Texas EMS medical directors recount the operational and 911 triage challenges recent weather posed as power outages afflicted the region


After a large response, especially one with unique challenges, it’s always good to look back from an after-action perspective to identify what we did right, what we did wrong, and what direction the unexpected came from.

In this special episode of the MCHD Paramedic Podcast, MCHD Medical Directors Dr. Robert Dickson and Dr. Casey Patrick are joined by three EMS leaders to discuss the biggest challenges they faced during the recent icy weather event in Texas.

Our guests include:

Drs. Jeff Jarvis, Jason R. Pickett and Veer D. Vithalani join MCHD medical directors to discuss 911 triage, operational challenges faced in the recent blizzard.
Drs. Jeff Jarvis, Jason R. Pickett and Veer D. Vithalani join MCHD medical directors to discuss 911 triage, operational challenges faced in the recent blizzard. (MCHD)
  • Jeff Jarvis, MD, MS, EMT-P, FACEP, FAEMS, EMS director for Williamson County EMS and Marble Falls Area EMS, in suburban Austin
  • Jason R. Pickett, MD, FACEP, FAEMS, acting medical director for Austin Travis County
  • Veer D. Vithalani, MD, system medical director and chief medical officer, MedStar Mobile Healthcare, Fort Worth and surrounding region

Together, they discuss the challenges they saw coming, as well as those that came as a surprise, as ice, then widespread power outages, and then water challenges made it operationally difficult to respond as call volumes tripled.

This cascade of events included diminished hospital capacity, and required 911 triage from high-risk populations, including:

  • Oxygen-dependent patients
  • Dialysis patients
  • Hospice patients

Read next: ‘A career event’: Traffic incident management in 130-vehicle pileupBreaking down police, fire rescue, EMS roles in a traffic incident management system

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