Medical Volunteers Train To Help Oklahoma Wildfire Victims

Saturday, August 8th 2015, 11:33 am
By: News On 6

Healthcare professionals and first responders are working hard this weekend in Tulsa. More than 120 of them are in Tulsa learning how to treat victims caught in a large grass fire.

The Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps is conducting disaster exercises at the OU Schusterman Center. They say the scenario is designed to treat people forced from their homes in a wildfire.

Organizers say the volunteer workshop simulates response when a grass fire is spreading rapidly, and people - and their pets - are seeking help at a shelter. The volunteers are assisting with heat stress training, psychological first aid and animal intake.

The goal is to make sure the medical professionals and other volunteers have the skills to help people in need.

Carrie Suns of the Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps said they don't set up the shelters - that's the Red Cross - but they assist in manning them. They also try to educate residents in areas prone to wildfires in having a family plan and supplies at the ready in case disaster strikes.

"We want everyone to be personally prepared," Suns said. "It's Oklahoma; we've got a lot of different hazards."

Suns said one specialty response team is the Humane Emergency Animal Response Team - or HEART - that handles four-legged victims. Wildfire victims often arrive at shelters with their pets, but they're not allowed inside. So HEART arrives with a trailer that can house pets nearby.

"Our volunteers are amazing," said Carrie Suns, Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps. "During disasters they'll stop whatever they're doing and come out and wrangle animals."

The trailers are set up near the shelters so owners can come outside to check out their animals and get some pet therapy, she said.

The Schusterman Center is set up as a mock shelter as volunteers train to help victims Saturday.