Natural disasters, hazardous materials releases, mass casualty emergencies, the threat of a domestic terrorist attack all demand a planned, safe, timely, and effective local coordinated response to minimize damage, protect lives, and safeguard property.

The Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) program provides support to the local area and supports partnerships that bring together a variety of emergency preparedness and emergency management systems.

The MMRS program was founded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) due to an increase in terrorist threats as evidenced by the 1995 sarin nerve agent gas attack in the Tokyo subway system and the 1996 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City.

The MMRS program is a federal program founded in 1996 to improve emergency response in the Washington D.C area, and expanded to include Atlanta, Georgia in preparation for the summer Olympics. Currently there are 124 cities in the MMRS program.

The federal MMRS program strives to:

  • Integrate and enhance existing disaster response systems to respond to mass casualty or “surge” events.
  • Incorporate customized incident planning and specialized training and exercises.
  • Provide specialized pharmaceuticals and equipment acquisitions including but not limited to: protective equipment, communications equipment, and medical supplies.
  • Promote an “all hazard” approach.
  • Prioritize the response activities and allocation of resources until significant external resources arrive and are operational (typically between 24 to 72 hours)

In 1997 the Department of Defense (DoD) in conjunction with the Omaha Fire Department (OFD) presented two programs in the Omaha metro area, one for first responders and the other for hospital providers. They came back to the area six months later (in 1998) and conducted a chemical tabletop exercise. The tabletop exercise identified a gap in the metro area chemical event response preparedness. Based on their review of the After Action Report (AAR) the hospital safety officers organized a committee to review and evaluate the recommendations. The committee was known as the Decontamination Team.

Federal funding was applied for and granted in 2000, at that time the name changed to the Omaha Metropolitan Medical Response System (OMMRS). OMMRS is a multi-disciplinary group of agencies and organizations that would respond in the Omaha Metropolitan area in the event a major disaster would occur.

The mission of OMMRS is to prepare the local medical community in partnership with public health, fire, law enforcement, major businesses, government entities and community organizations of the city of Omaha and surrounding communities for an integrated medical response to any disaster, including those that could result from terrorism.

OMMRS counties included:

  • Nebraska
    • Douglas County
    • Sarpy County
    • Dodge County
    • Saunders County
    • Washington County
  • Iowa
    • Pottawattamie County
    • Harrison County

OMMRS planning activities address many aspects of disaster response as indicated by the various OMMRS committees.

Plan Development

Several committees were formed to develop parts of the OMMRS plan. These committees are comprised of volunteers from organizations and and agencies both public and private. They are also charged with keeping their section of the plan current.

Plan Implementation

On September 10, 2005 a number of OMMRS committee plans were implemented when 166 Hurricane Katrina evacuees arrived at the Omaha Civic Auditorium. All plans were well coordinated and effective. Plans implemented during that event included:

  • Badge system
  • Communications Plan
  • Behavioral Health Plan
  • Pharmacy Plan
  • Medical Reserve Corps
  • Personnel Processing Point (Partial activation)
  • Media Central Briefing Site (on standby)
  • All hospitals (on standby)
  • EOC Medical Table was operational


For more on MMRS take a look at the FEMA website.

You can also view the websites of other MMRS jurisdictions around the country.

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