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Swine Flu Real World Test Of Local Response Plan

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Tulsa Health Department employees have planned, trained, and drilled their pandemic influenza response plan for a number of years and are now putting it into action in a real world event. Tulsa Health Department staff began implementing their plan on Friday, April 24th just one day after they participated in an emergency response drill that evaluated how quickly they could get medications such as anti-virals into the hands of community residents.

"Tulsa is forunate that the first responder community has made preparedness a priority for a number of years. Every Tulsa Health Department employee has emergency preparedness responsibilities in their job description. They are required to fulfill mandatory training hours and participate in emergency drills regardless of the division or program they work in." stated Tulsa Health Department Director Gary Cox.

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The Tulsa Health Department does have an Emergency Preparedness division that has primary responsibility for developing effective emergency response plans for a variety of bioterrorism incidents as well as a possible pandemic flu event. They collaborate with other local first responders such as fire, police, sheriff's office and EMSA. They also work closely with local school districts, churches, and community groups.

"Our staff are highly trained and are extremely dedicated to protecting the public's health. Although we are putting in a lot of hours right now making sure we are ready and staying several steps ahead of the current swine flu threat, we also know we can not do it all alone. Our plan relies on our close working relationships with other first responders and trained volunteers in order to effectively respond." commented Tulsa Health Department Emergency Response Director Dave Cox.

Individuals also have a role to play in responding to public health threats. They can make emergency response plans for their families and they can volunteer to assist with public health emergencies through the MRC. The MRC is a group of volunteers who respond to disasters in Oklahoma. Volunteers of all skill levels are always needed.