Emergency workers risked their lives to save others during flooding

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by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and Photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY

khou.com

Posted on November 1, 2013 at 6:41 PM

AUSTIN -- Through Wednesday night's storm and the aftermath, hundreds of emergency workers risked their lives bringing others to safety.

This is the kind of crisis for which these emergency workers continually train, and one said it definitely paid off.

Patrick Phillips has been in public safety for 20 years. As STAR Flight's chief medical supervisor, he's helped in his share of rescues.

"It's an honor for us to go out and do what we do, to be there for people. And when they see us, they have hope, Phillips said.

On Thursday, Phillips joined dozens of emergency responders from Travis and Williamson counties, the Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks and Wildlife and other agencies that spent countless hours bringing people to safety during and after the floods that swept across Central Texas.

"Everyone was excellent. The coordination and communication between us and other aviation assets and all of the other public safety agencies was unparalleled," Phillips said.

On Thursday, three of STAR Flight's four helicopters hovered constantly in the air, plucking victims from the flood waters.

"We had every aircraft flying that was able to fly," Phillips said. "As a department, I believe we rescued 30 people and four dogs."

Phillips said most of the rescues happened around Onion Creek, including one at Firefly Drive and Glowworm Circle, where they spotted a woman in high water clinging to a stop sign. They also managed to bring the few belongings she had left on board.

"She was extremely tired. She'd been there for hours. She said, 'This is all I have in the world,' and it's basically a grocery bag, or something of that size," Phillips said. "It really brings home for you how precious life is for everyone and how you can lose things in a moment."

STAR Flight crews will remain on alert as flooding continues farther down the Colorado River.

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