Oklahoma City Bombing

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The Initial Incident Response

ithin minutes of the blast, a massive search-and-rescue effort commenced that included fire, emergency, medical, and law enforcement personnel, as well as a large number of citizens. Citizens and emergency personnel joined together and entered the bombed structure, forming human chains to locate and remove trapped survivors and victims. In fact, throughout this rescue effort, the large outpouring of citizens and agency volunteers astonished veteran rescue workers.

The strong State and Federal Government presence in Oklahoma City helped the response-and-rescue effort. For example, immediately following the explosion, the Oklahoma City Fire Department set up an Incident Command System (ICS) to manage the
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As stress and work took their toll on rescue personnel, crisis intervention on their behalf became necessary. When rescue workers switched from saving lives to retrieving bodies and body parts, separate staff were provided to offer stress management services. More than 12,000 volunteer and professional rescue personnel were involved in the rescue operation. Compassion Center staff also recognized that many media representatives were becoming secondary victims experiencing long work hours, competing intensely for stories, and undergoing prolonged exposure to the bomb site, shattered survivors, and stressed rescuers.

When the Center closed, Governor Frank Keating named the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) as the lead agency to coordinate and conduct mental health crisis response services. The Center became Project Heartland on May 15, 1995, and was supported by grants from FEMA and the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC). Project Heartland continued to provide an extensive array of victim services.

Resource Coordination Committee (Unmet Needs Committee)

Recognizing the need for an umbrella group that would pool information and help coordinate funding for
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