OSDH Demobilizes Incident Command Service Which Helped With COVID-19 Response

Wednesday, October 21st 2020, 6:16 pm
By: Erica Rankin

The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced they would demobilize their Incident Command Service, ICS.

Some lawmakers are questioning the move, especially as Oklahoma’s coronavirus numbers continue to rise and Governor Stitt just announced an updated surge plan for hospitals in the state.

“Just because we have hospital capacity doesn’t mean this virus is over by any means,” said Governor Kevin Stitt at a press conference on Tuesday.

Representative Forrest Bennett said he is concerned with this move and feels like state leaders have continued to send mixed messages.

“Too often during this pandemic, we’ve been fed the rosiest possible picture of the pandemic, and it’s a disservice to our people,” said Bennett. “The daily trend of cases and deaths is moving in the wrong direction, and we need more transparency at minimum, and more leadership displaying responsibility too, if we’re going to get through this without an even more devastating cost to lives and livelihoods.”

Health officials said the Incident Command Service (ICS) is a part of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Service (EPRS) but is a configuration of that unit that activates upon notice of an emergency. When activated, it brings together members of EPRS and other OSDH staff from across the agency to engage in special assignments to further the mission of the EPRS in responding to a Public Health emergency.

“As we have progressed in this response, duties assigned to staff when the ICS was initially mobilized have become interwoven into the daily functions of EPRS staff,” said Travis Kirkpatrick, the Deputy Commissioner for the OSDH. “As a result, a decision was made to demobilize this specialist group, and allow for members of the OSDH team to return to their normal job routines. The demobilization of ICS did not result in the loss of any jobs.”