Tulsa Fire Department Prepares For The Unthinkable

Tuesday, June 17th 2014, 11:09 am
By: Dave Davis

The Tulsa fire department is doing something it's never done: putting together a team of disaster relief experts for the worst-case scenario. It's called the Incident Management Team, FEMA-related program that has thought of everything.

The unthinkable happening in Tulsa - like it did in Moore, Joplin and Boston. Those scenarios are the reason Tulsa Fire is putting together the department's first ever Incident Management Team or IMT.

Basically, it's a support system for the first responders.

"They're gonna need equipment, supplies, other personnel, other agencies to help them. The Incident Management Team is tasked with making sure that they receive all that help," said Captain Stan May, Tulsa Fire Department spokesperson.

One of the ways the new IMT will do this is with a trailer-called MiniEcho. It's a repurposed city trailer. They spent nearly two years to outfit it with radio decks, high speed Internet, and even a satellite dish.

MiniEcho lets Tulsa Fire talk to other departments much more easily than they can now.

"With a couple switches we can, in essence, patch everybody into the same, common radio system," said Chief Mike Mallory, Tulsa Fire Department Physical Resources.

That ability to streamline in an emergency is invaluable. And they admit it would have really helped them in past responses.

"If we had some of this stuff in Tulsa, like we do now, it would have made life a lot of easier for the responders, " Mallory said.

And the IMT team will be using another trailer that may be just be as important.

The Command Support trailer, as you can imagine, has everything you can think of, from color-coded vests to flow charts. Don't forget the magic markers - which you can use to draw up plans on the hood of a car in a pinch.

The trailer is also equipped with computer system that can print out pre-approved ID badge on the spot, another critical need during emergencies.

"We gotta make sure we can keep the looters out, the people trying to take advantage of people that have just went through something like this," said Captain Stan May, TFD.

"So we have to know who's inside the fenceline."

So far, TFD says they have 40 fully trained IMT members: from incident commanders to financial managers.

They could deploy immediately, but it will another year before they have ideal staffing levels.