Mason County News
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211 for Health/Safety Needs
Wednesday, August 18, 2010 • Posted August 18, 2010

Residents of the Concho Valley can access information about health and human services by dialing these three numbers: 2-1-1. With 2-1-1 Texas, residents from the Concho Valley can find information, free of charge, on utility bill assistance, child care, programs for the elderly, substance abuse intervention, mental health assistance, job training, and disaster preparedness as easily as they can get emergency assistance by calling 9-1-1 or a phone number by dialing 4-1-1.

The Area Information Center, 2-1-1 Texas of the Concho Valley, based in the offices of the Concho Valley Council of Governments/Area Agency on Aging of the Concho Valley in San Angelo, TX, is staffed by trained Information and Referral Specialists. Each specialist assesses the caller’s needs and can also follow up with callers to ensure that they have been properly served or if there is still a need for further assistance.

The entire 2-1-1 Texas network, which includes twenty-five Area Information Centers (AIC) across the state, is in included in Governor Rick Perry’s Texas Homeland Security Strategic Plan. After the 2005 hurricanes, Katrina and Rita, much planning was done on all levels, local, state and national to be proactive for future disasters, whether man-made or nature induced. Hurricane season runs six months out of the year, beginning on June 1 and ending on November 30; although we live in the Concho Valley area and would not normally see any major impact from a hurricane, your local 2-1-1 is available to assist Texans from all across the state when the need arises. Our most recent major weather related event was in response to Hurricane Ike; in which, locally, we handled well over 3,000 disaster related calls while still answering just under 1,000 calls a month from the Concho Valley area that were not disaster related. In the Fall of 2009, the 2-1-1 Texas network was called to action to assist in response to H1N1. By collaborating at the state level with the Texas Department of State Health Services, 2-1-1 Information Specialists answered thousands of calls regarding H1N1 inquiry: where to get the vaccine, what the symptoms of H1N1 were, who needed to take the vaccine, etc.

Although our local call center normally operates Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., in times of Disaster Related (DR), activity we can be called upon by the Texas Information and Referral Network to operate odd hours like 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and/or work weekends and holidays. As we experienced with our involvement in response to Hurricane Ike, it is crucial to our operation to have support staff and volunteers available to assist when your local 2-1-1 is asked to be fully staffed not only to respond to local calls, but disaster calls at extended hours and for extended periods of time. The types of calls that we handle in DR include: residents from impacted communities dialed 2-1-1 to validate the information they were hearing from local news in their affected communities, seeking information about how to prepare for the storm, and/or to seek information about how to evacuate if they had special needs such as disabilities, no vehicle, or even how to evacuate if they did not have the funds to self-evacuate.

If you would like to learn more specific information about the 2-1-1 Texas program or to request a presentation for your organization or group, please call (325)223-5704 and ask for Toni or Cassandra. For general inquiries about the program or for assistance with locating resources, dial 2-1-1.

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