Tulsa County Medical Reserve Corps Sets Standard For Animal Rescue
TULSA, Oklahoma - Out of a thousand emergency response teams across the country, Tulsa County's Medical Reserve Corps is one of just seven selected for a national pilot program. The unit is made up of volunteers are credentialed and certified to help with anything from a biological threat like anthrax, to a hurricane or tornado, but it's their animal rescue strategies that stand out.
"They are taking Oklahoma as a model, Tulsa specifically, because we are really good at disaster response. Unfortunately in Oklahoma, we have a lot of disasters,” said Carrie Suns, Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps Coordinator.
"We are really the gold standard for the nation, and so we would like to duplicate that, because animals are such a big part of emergency response and disaster response.”
The team responded to an animal hoarding case in December, when 87 animals were rescued from a trailer in Spavinaw, spending 1,000 hours volunteering for the case.
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"We were able to give them medical treatment and adopt them out,” said Suns. “We did everything required to take care of a dog, from veterinary triage to cleaning cages to walking them. These dogs were very under-socialized so they weren't used to walking, so they were staying in their cages most of the time."
Tulsa County’s MRC works with the Humane Society locally, but also deploys outside of Oklahoma, most recently to Texas after Hurricane Harvey.
“We rescued 300 homeless animals. They were homeless animals that had to be housed, medically cared for, and then they were moved on to emergency placement partners."
Suns said they also have a holistic veterinarian who was able to help stressed puppies.
"What's really cool is we were able to do animal acupuncture too. So that was a little unique, that most of the other units in the nation have never tried,” said Suns.
The National Association of County and City Health Officials in Washington D.C. announced Tulsa County’s MRC as one of seven units selected, specifically for their efforts during Hurricane Harvey.
“The national program will take a look at our best practices, and they will roll it out to all units across the nation,” said Suns.
Oklahoma ranks number one in the nation per capita for federally declared disasters, and having a plan, with credentialed and trained volunteers, makes all the difference.
"We will hopefully be receiving a lot of calls from our partners across the United States so that we can help them become resilient like Oklahoma."
Tulsa County's MRC also gets a $20,000 grant through the pilot program. The county's 1,000 volunteers operate on about $5,000 per year, so they're hoping to do more in the community.