Even with power and water outages at their own homes and an icy, snowy commute to campus, the Facilities Management team worked tirelessly during the winter storm to keep university operations going.
Having dedicated staff willing to come to work was key to Facilities Management’s ability to quickly respond to weather-related events and maintain university operations.
Dan Costello, associate vice president, Facilities Management, said that Facilities Management had between 20 and 60 staff on-site at any given time throughout the week providing snow and ice removal, steam and chilled water production, isolation and repair of ruptured chilled water coils, fire sprinkler systems and water piping, along with water extraction and clean up.
Costello said additional staff members were brought in to assist the normally assigned night shifts and a number of work areas had individuals spend the night on campus to ensure adequate staffing and reduce travel times for emergency responses.
Snow and de-icing efforts occurred daily to allow the critical treatment of patients at the Medical Arts and Research Center, Mays Cancer Center and the Center for Oral Health Care and Research.
In addition, access to the Medical School Building, Department of Laboratory Animal Resources entrances and Briscoe Library was maintained to allow for essential services.
Staff made sure heating systems were operating and addressed chilled water coils and pipes that burst when the temperatures plummeted. Facilities Management staff responded to more than 30 water-related events as a result of ruptured chilled water coils, safety sprinkler systems and water piping. Many of those incidents occurred during the overnight hours and repairs were made quickly.
Facilities Management staff often worked hand in hand with UT Health San Antonio Police Department, Environmental Health and Safety, and Lab Animal Resources staff who were on-site as well to help quickly resolve issues and mitigate the damage to our patient care, research and animal spaces. It was a good team effort.
Raymundo Rivera, executive director, Engineering & Construction Management, said several of his colleagues reported to work before the sun came up. Many had to leave their homes extra early because street and traffic lights were out, highways were shut down and slick conditions made the commute tough.
Rivera said the Facilities Management team has a “can-do” spirit. Rivera asked some staff members to come together to take a photo in the snow in front of the ALTC. They took a moment to capture the historic storm and celebrate a team effort.
“No one expected a weeklong weather event, but we were ready,” said Rivera.