Tulsa Medical Community Ready For Bad Weather

Thursday, April 9th 2009, 6:40 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Whenever severe weather threatens, the Tulsa medical community gets ready with a system to handle big problems in a coordinated manner.

One level below ground in Tulsa's emergency operations center, a separate room stands ready to handle the medical care needed during a weather emergency.

It's equipped with all sorts of communication gear so the entire medical community can be alerted to a problem and work together to solve it.

"We have the ability to do rapid early notification to all the hospital emergency departments as well as key personnel within those hospitals," said Kelly Deal, medical response system coordinator.

The system is used often during spring storms to keep hospitals informed of what's happening in the community. There is a desk for each hospital and first responder agency.

It was last fully activated during the 2007 ice storm.

"We were able to do a full activation with the hospitals, and we had a representative of every hospital down here within 45 minutes," Deal said.

The group helped St. John Medical Center deal with a generator failure and a shortage of oxygen.

"In essence, we had our own internal disaster going on in addition to what was going on in the community," said Jana Hallman, who coordinates how St. John responds to severe weather. "We have not only patients and staff, but visitors to take care of as well."

One of the first things the hospital does in high winds is to get everyone away from windows. Patients are moved out of rooms into the hallways.

Other hospitals are alerted they may need to provide mutual aid. All that is coordinated through the medical response system, which is ready for the next weather warning.

The system is on standby at all times, and the coordinator sent out updates Thursday to the group.

It's ready to go, if it's needed.