The Otoe-Missouria Tribe

The Otoe-Missouria Tribe

Tribe Partners with County and American Red Cross to Dispense Medication

By Heather Payne, Otoe-Missouria Public Affairs Office on October 17, 2019

RED ROCK, Okla.--The Otoe-Missouria Tribe has partnered with Payne County and the American Red Cross to become a “Push Partner” Point of Dispensing (POD) site in the event of a biological emergency such as an epidemic flu outbreak.

The tribe has been working on this project for seven-years. The tribe’s Emergency Manager James LeClair spearheaded all the agreements with area health agencies such as the American Red Cross and Indian Health Services who will help in the event the POD is activated.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) developed the “Push Partner” Program in 2006 in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) medical countermeasures requirements for the Cities Readiness Initiative.

The push partner program builds capacity so that community partners know how to conduct dispensing operations at a proficiency level equal to that of current public health staff. The program helps partners be successful in demonstrating their dispensing plan.

The Otoe-Missouria POD will dispense life-saving medications to tribal members, tribal employees and their families. Those who fall under this criterion, but do not live near the Red Rock area are encouraged to go to a POD near their residence. Limiting the movement of other populations will help reduce the spread of any possible contagion and allows the tribe and county to have the proper supply of medication on hand at the dispensing site.

“By partnering with American Red Cross,” LeClair says, “we are able to use their nurses to help dispense medication at our POD, which will ease the burden on our volunteers and help us reach more people, faster.”

Push partners, including the Otoe-Missouria POD volunteers, are trained in all aspects of the planning process and participate in exercises that allow them to demonstrate understanding of dispensing operations. Training and exercises are tracked and documented using the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP). This helps develop a strong professional relationship with partner agencies as well as ensure push partners will be successful.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the American Red Cross and the tribe includes training, exercises and natural disaster assistance.

“This has been in the works for many years,” American Red Cross State Relations Director/Tribal Relations Lead Chele Rider says. “We are very proud to formalize this partnership, which will provide services for many years to the community members who count on us to be prepared.”

The tribe has already held training exercises with Payne County Health officials and state health officials at the tribal complex to determine the best practices, logistics and volunteer training in the event the Otoe-Missouria POD is activated.

Beyond training, the tribe will begin an awareness campaign so that people will be prepared should a biological emergency, such as a flu epidemic, be declared and the POD be activated. These messages will be dispensed through the tribe’s newsletter, website, social media and community alert system. To sign up for the Otoe-Missouria Community alerts visit

Each year, there is a flu season, but rarely is an area declared to have a flu epidemic. While the POD will help in the case of a declaration of a flu epidemic or other biological event, the best practice is to maintain your family’s vaccinations including getting a flu vaccine each year. To learn more about vaccinations, contact your local Health Department.


Caption: Representatives from the American Red Cross and the Otoe-Missouria Tribe finalized an agreement for the American Red Cross to provide training and assistance to the tribe in the event of an emergency. Present at the signing were (back row L to R) American Red Cross Disaster Service Phil Oura, American Red Cross Leon Lively, American Red Cross Sound the Alarm Lead Keith Armstrong, American Red Cross Sound the Alarm Lead Callie Armstrong, American Red Cross Senior Disaster Program Manager Serving Oklahoma Johnny Munn, American Red Cross Volunteer & Board Member Bill Presley, American Red Cross State Relations Director/Tribal Relations Lead Chele Rider and American Red Cross Disaster Program Manager Celeste Carpenter; (front row L to R) Otoe-Missouria Tribal Treasurer Courtney Burgess, Otoe-Missouria Emergency Manager James LeClair and Otoe-Missouria Executive Director Michael Gawhega.