Natural disasters are more frequent and more devastating than ever. It’s a fact the resilient residents of Houston, Texas, know all too well. But they’ll also tell you the power of community endures. Residents say they were inspired by what they witnessed after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in August 2017. They say neighbors and strangers worked together to make it through the storm. They say first responders were heroes. They say the city is stronger now.
During Harvey, OnStar* worked closely with the American Red Cross* and first responders to get people the help they needed by answering more than 310,000 emergency relief calls. After witnessing the strength and spirit of people affected by natural disasters like Harvey, OnStar created #OnStarGivesBack to celebrate community resilience. Because when the unexpected happens, OnStar Advisors are ready to help.
Houston Fire Station 17
The men and women of the Houston Fire Department (HFD) spend just as much time at their firehouses as they do at their own homes. They’re not just a well-trained unit; they’re a family. During Harvey, first responders at Station 17 braved the wind and rain, working tirelessly for four straight days.
They say they survived off a sense of purpose, pure adrenaline and home-cooked food brought to them by residents of the largely Hispanic neighborhood that surrounds the station. “We take care of them, and they took care of us,” one firefighter remembers.
These firefighters and paramedics pride themselves on their strong connection to the community, which also includes their beloved Houston Astros baseball team. Station 17 acts as the “steel alarm” for the Astros, meaning they’re responsible for responding to emergency calls at the ballpark. They literally wear their pride for the team on the sleeves of their uniforms, and their “2nd Ward Strike Team” baseball diamond logo is proudly displayed on their trucks and ambulances.
To commemorate the work that both Station 17 and the American Red Cross do every day, OnStar traveled to Houston to tell their story and celebrate their bravery.
A New Set of Wheels
When people think of firefighters, they picture a big red truck screaming down the road on the way to battle a blazing building. However, about 90 percent of the calls the HFD responds to are medical emergencies. They rack up hundreds of thousands of miles while encountering all kinds of dangerous situations every day, from angry dogs to active shooters. Recently, while transporting a shooting victim to the hospital in an ambulance — sirens wailing — a firefighter from Station 17 honked at a driver who wouldn’t pull over. He was able to maneuver the ambulance around the inconsiderate driver. Unfortunately, this only enraged the driver, who proceeded to fire multiple shots at the back of the ambulance with his handgun.
OnStar is inspired by the bravery and selflessness of our first responder community, so this summer, we threw a party to honor Fire Station 17. Special guests from the Houston Astros were there, including 2018 MLB All-Star Game MVP infielder Alex Bregman and outfielder Tony Kemp. HFD Executive Assistant Chief Rodney West also was there, as were Texas Rep. Christina Morales, Houston City Council Member Dwight Boykins and many incredible members of the Second Ward community.
As a special thank-you for their service, OnStar not only surprised the firehouse with a pair of season tickets for the Astros but also donated a brand-new, fully loaded and upfitted Chevrolet ambulance. Now they can keep doing what they do best — helping those in need.
A big thank-you to all first responders, and especially the courageous men and women of the Houston Fire Department.
Be Safe Out There.
* OnStar plan, working electrical system, cell reception and GPS signal required. OnStar links to emergency services. Click here for details and limitations.