The Woodward News

Local News

May 21, 2013

Woodward County EMS helping with tornado response

Woodward, Okla. — Woodward County EMS has joined in the response efforts to the devastation following the deadly EF-5 tornado in Central Oklahoma.

The local emergency medical service sent an ambulance and support vehicle along with 3 paramedics, 1 intermediate EMT and 1 basic EMT to Moore on Monday night.

Vanessa Brewington, administrator for Woodward County EMS, said the vehicles and personnel were sent as part of a Regional Emergency Medical Service System (REMSS) strike team. The group from Woodward County joined with ambulances and personnel from Guymon, Enid, Kingfisher and the Clinton area to make up the REMSS Region 1 strike team.

While the ambulance was sent to help transport patients if needed as the search and rescue efforts continued Monday night into Tuesday morning, Brewington said the support vehicle was sent “to help carry supplies such as extra oxygen.”

This helps the crews to be better prepared for whatever situation they might encounter, since when the strike team was deployed it wasn't clear what kind of cases the crews might have to deal with.

Brewington said the responding EMS crews wouldn't know what they would be asked to do until after reporting to the incident command post.

“They will be there for medical support, whatever the incident command needs them to do,” she said.

In a brief interview with The News early Tuesday afternoon, Brewington said she believed the Region 1 strike team was sent to accompany some search and rescue teams as they went through neighborhoods, double and triple checking for any people still trapped in debris and rubble.

But she didn't have much additional detail as to what the Woodward County crew in particular was experiencing.

“Whatever it is, I'm sure they're pretty busy,” she said.

Brewington also told The News that it wasn't clear how long the EMS teams would be needed to stay and assist with efforts in Moore, but they were prepared to help as long as they could.

“We go prepared to be self-sufficient for 3 days; we provide our own food, water, clothing, things like that,” she said.

This self-sufficiency is important because it helps ensure that those donations of items coming in for relief efforts “are available to those who were affected,” she said.

If the Woodward County personnel are needed for longer periods, Brewington said Woodward County EMS will look at sending in other personnel and resources to relieve the first crew.

However, she said it is difficult to determine early on how long the additional EMS assistance might be needed.

“I'm not sure how long they'll be needed,” Brewington said. “Right now we're waiting to see how long the deployment will be before we send another team down to trade out personnel.”

But she said there are plenty of EMS staff who are willing to go help as they can.

She explained that the paramedics and EMTs who participate in the strike team all do so on a volunteer basis.

“It's strictly voluntary,” Brewington said. “Of course everybody wanted to go, but we can't send everybody because we still have a service here we have to staff. Everybody is more than willing to help out though.”

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