Volunteers Urged Not To 'Self Deploy' To Tornado-Ravaged Joplin - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Volunteers Urged Not To 'Self Deploy' To Tornado-Ravaged Joplin, Missouri

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Emergency workers walk through debris in a Joplin neighborhood Monday. Emergency workers walk through debris in a Joplin neighborhood Monday.
St. John's hospital sustained major damage in Sunday's tornado. St. John's hospital sustained major damage in Sunday's tornado.
EMSA equipment ready to be sent to Joplin. EMSA equipment ready to be sent to Joplin.

Lori Fullbright, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- A number of emergency workers and volunteers from Green Country are either in Joplin or going there to help with the disaster.

5/23/2011 Related Story: Death Toll Climbs To 116 In Joplin, Missouri Tornado

However, for people who feel the urge to jump in a vehicle and head that way, the Missouri health department says, please don't.

Both Oklahoma and Missouri leaders are urging people not to self-deploy. Understandably, people want to share their nursing or paramedic or search skills, but it will only create more chaos to just arrive.

5/23/2011 Related Story: How To Help Joplin Residents Devastated By Sunday's Deadly Tornado

The video and pictures are heart breaking, the urge to help is overwhelming, especially for Oklahomans who know first-hand the devastation tornados cause, how critical the rescue operation is and how long cleaning up and rebuilding can take.

Many Green Country agencies have sent rescuers, cadaver dogs, ambulances, paramedics, firefighters and police officers to help.

EMSA's strike team has now been requested as well.

"Our full strike team is 12 paramedics, 1 mechanic, 5 ambulances and a bunch of equipment, an event trailer filled with backboards, read to eat meals, blankets, heaters, generators, that kind of thing," Chris Stevens, EMSA's Public Information officer, said.

The strike team can operate 72 hours and treat 150 patients. The one thing Missouri does not need right now is people going there on their own to volunteer.

"The state of Missouri is urging people not to self deploy, doctors, nurses, don't show up on your own," Stevens said. "As we learned from the OKC bombing and the Picher tornado, that' just creating more chaos."

Instead, go through the Missouri State Department of Health to get activated and into the system and then get a specific assignment of where you are needed and when to arrive.

"If you stay outside the system, they have no idea who you are or your capabilities. They just want to keep it on the books and playing within the rules," Stevens said.

To go to Joplin and help, sign up at the Missouri Department of Health's website.

The emergency management agency says they appreciate people want to help, but filling up trucks of donated items is not the way. They say what's needed most is cash to a reputable disaster relief agency like Red Cross or Salvation Army.

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