Meet Laura Norman of TEXSAR: Texas Search and Rescue

1 04 2018

The following article was published on March 28, 2018, by VoyageHouston on its website.  Back in 2015, Fort Bend County approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Texas Search and Rescue.  Fort Bend County OEM appreciates our relationship with TEXSAR, but we appreciate our relationship with Laura Norman who, for many years, has been an integral part of the Office of Emergency Management’s volunteer program.  Laura has endless energy and it appears that she often squeezes more than 24 hours into her normal day.  Laura is a fantastic public servant.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Laura Norman.

Laura, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
After having served in search and rescue since Hurricane Katrina, I began working with TEXSAR four years ago, along with my husband Edward. We saw a level of professionalism on the team and the dedicated servant hearts that served there. Since that time we have both deployed throughout the State in a variety of capacities. Working for TEXSAR gives us an opportunity to share our mission with our family and the community.

I started out working for TEXSAR in Incident Management and Ground Search throughout the State. For the last three years, I have headed up the TEXSAR Gulf Coast Division in the Houston/Galveston region. My responsibilities include overseeing training, deployment, and recruitment in this area. Additionally, I sit on the Board of Directors for TEXSAR and assist with developing the strategic direction for the team and in particular the Support Service Branch of TEXSAR.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?

When I first began serving as the supervisor for the Gulf Coast Division of TEXSAR, we had a handful of members and few opportunities to train and deploy locally. Fortunately, some dedicated folks stepped up and added their expertise and sweat equity to the team locally and we began to grow slowly. It was most definitely a team effort, literally.

After my first year, we noticed that our local training had a pretty high percentage of involvement and attendance which encouraged our members to recruit friends and family. We added weekly options for field training for ground search and the K9s, with the help of a very experienced member, Joe Huston coordinating the training. This encouragement allowed us to build our local capabilities and opened up more opportunities to serve.

After Hurricane Harvey, word got out that we had professionally trained responders in the Houston/Galveston region and our membership locally doubled in just a few months. We have many firefighters, law enforcement, EMS and veterans on TEXSAR and many were looking for a place to serve during and after Harvey. It has been a great experience to see so many members of the community step up and prepare themselves for the next disaster.

Our biggest challenge locally is building our reputation throughout this region. We are frequently called by the Texas Rangers to assist with cases in smaller jurisdictions and work alongside many different agencies in Central Texas frequently. In the Houston/Galveston region, we are relatively new and have been spent a great deal of time cultivating relationships and partnerships with agencies and organizations in this region.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about TEXSAR: Texas Search and Rescue – what should we know?

TEXSAR is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with divisions in North Texas, West Texas, Coastal Bend, Central Texas and the Gulf Coast.

With more than 300 members, TEXSAR deploys to all 254 counties in Texas at the request of law enforcement, emergency management, and public safety agencies. TEXSAR personnel are professionally trained to respond to wildland fire, ground search and rescue, flood and swift water rescue, Incident Management, medical response, K9 search (land and water), aerial search with both drones and aircraft, disaster response and recovery as well and advanced search planning. There is never a charge to our requesting agencies for TEXSAR services.

I am most proud of the dependability and the integrity of the team as a whole. Being able to work side by side some of the most amazing law enforcement and public safety personnel in the nation is a humbling privilege that we do not take lightly.

During Hurricane Harvey, TEXSAR deployed nearly 90 trained search and rescue personnel from Corpus Christi, Rockport, Port Aransas, Wharton, Beaumont as well Fort Bend, Harris, Montgomery and Galveston Counties. I have never been more proud of the team’s servant hearts and their professional response. Hundreds of Harvey victims became survivors as a direct result of the service of TEXSAR personnel. They inspire me.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
The quality that makes me successful is the same one that I share with my TEXSAR teammates. We are mission minded people who live our lives on purpose.

Contact Info:

Phone: (512) 956-6727




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