By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer
Muskogee is one of only two locations in the state with a fully-equipped Disaster Medical Response Team ready to go at a moment’s notice.
If a tornado hits, another ice storm overwhelms, or a hospital is damaged, the team is ready to go, said Laurel Havens, the Muskogee County Emergency Medical Service training coordinator and Region IV representative of the Regional EMS Systems committee formed by Homeland Security.
Muskogee was chosen as a location for the more than $650,000 disaster response equipment by Homeland Security, Havens said. Norman is the only other place in the state with a DMRT.
“We cover the entire eastern portion of the state, and Norman covers the western portion,” Havens said. “This team has responded to tornadoes, ice storms, even Hurricanes Ike, Katrina and Gustav evacuees both in Oklahoma City and Camp Gruber.”
Muskogee County EMS provides training and manpower for the unit — 14 emergency medical responders all also employed by MCEMS.
Saturday morning the team met at the Muskogee fairgrounds for its monthly training.
As soon as the trailer parked, men began setting up equipment, finishing in less than 20 minutes.
DMRT team leaders Ron Morris and Mike Ford said the closest to home the team has had to respond was a tornado last May at Long Bay on Fort Gibson Lake.
Ford said there was quite a lot damage from the small tornado, but only very few minor injuries that day.
“But it ended up being a validation of the concept of our training,” Ford said. “Because it all worked exactly as its supposed to.”