COLLEGE STATION – Kelly “Brett” Dixon of Texas Task Force 1 has been awarded the prestigious Regents Fellow Service Award. The annual award is the highest honor given by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents and recognizes employees who have made exemplary contributions to their university or agency and to the people of Texas.
Dixon was recognized for his hard work, dedication and commitment to serving others in their most desperate times of need. He helped develop a model Helicopter Search and Rescue Team (HSART) Program that has saved many lives during disastrous swiftwater and flooding events in the state.
The HSART is a joint program between TX-TF1 and Texas Military Forces — a first-of-its-kind partnership in the U.S. that utilizes task force rescue personnel with swiftwater rescue experience and aviation assets and crews from the military. Currently, there are 24 active HSARTs and managers in the program, which has served a model for other states.
Dixon has been instrumental in the continued success of this program. Most recently, the HSART teams were put to the test across Texas in the catastrophic floods of May 2015.
TX-TF1 HSARTS along with TXARNG aircrews were prepositioned before severe storms dropped more than 37 trillion gallons of water on the state. HSARTS performed many rescues, including 36 people from floodwaters in Wimberley and San Marcos.
“The training, coordination and effectiveness of these life-saving teams from multiple agency partners is directly attributable to Dixon’s efforts and his passion for service,” said TEEX Director Gary Sera. “His efforts continue to impact the lives of people in a positive way, even in the most desperate situations. He is the example of what TEEX strives to be and show to the world.”
Dixon joined TEEX in 2002 and soon was assisting with training deliveries for Texas Task Force 1 members and supervising technicians tasked with maintaining Texas Task Force 1’s $7 million equipment cache, vehicles and facilities. A Heavy Rigging & Equipment Specialist for Texas Task Force 1, he has been called out to nearly 20 deployments since 2004.
In 2009, he took on an additional role that would have a major impact on TX-TF1 deployments for flooding and swiftwater rescues. A trained rescue swimmer, he became the Helicopter Search & Rescue Project Manager and oversees the aviation Search and Rescue response with state partners. Dixon serves as the Aviation Search & Rescue coordinator at the Texas Air Operations Center and Joint Air-Ground Coordination Team during responses to flooding and natural disaster within the state of Texas and surrounding states when requested through the Interstate Emergency Response Support Plan.
Dixon has had great impact on the success of the Helicopter Rescue Program, says TX-TF1 Director Jeff Saunders. “During the recent Texas floods, the team had 36 rescues from a variety of situations, from rooftops to swiftwater.”
Dixon served as an infantryman in the U.S. Marine Corps and an Embassy Guard in Saudi Arabia and Bolivia. A trained Emergency Medical Technician and Swiftwater Rescue Technician, he holds numerous other certifications and accreditations, including Helicopter Search & Rescue Swimmer, Rope Rescue Technician, Structural Collapse Technician II, FEMA US&R Logistics Specialist and Heavy Equipment & Rigging Specialist, among others.
About Texas Task Force 1
TX-TF1 is sponsored by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and has deployed over 90 times since 1997, including the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy; Sept. 11th World Trade Center attack; the explosion in West, TX; Moore, OK, tornado; and Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike. TX-TF1 can be activated by the Texas Division of Emergency Management or as one of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) 28 sanctioned urban search and rescue teams.