Volunteering For Community Preparedness And Public Health With Medical Reserve Corps
The Medical Reserve Corps is a national network of local groups of volunteers who are committed to improving the health, safety and resiliency of their communities,
The MRC coordinates the skills of practicing and retired physicians, nurses and other health related professionals, as well as lay citizens who have an interest in volunteering to address their communities’ ongoing public health and to aid in the response during large scale emergency situations.
By maintaining an active MRC, Washington County can be assured that along with our local Emergency Management Agency and area first responders, our community can achieve a vision of coordination for public health issues and emergency preparedness.
The Illinois Department of Public Health coordinates and promotes the formation and maintenance of MRC units in Illinois as a means of sharing information and coordinating life and property saving efforts. Locally, it is coordinated through the Washington County Health Department, in conjunction with the Clinton County Health Department.
This MRC unit engages volunteers to strengthen public health, improve emergency response to natural disasters such as tornadoes, blizzards, floods, and other emergencies affecting public health, such as disease outbreaks.
The unit is led by a local coordinator who matches local volunteer’s capabilities and schedules with both emergency responses and public health initiatives. By identifying the duties of the MRC volunteers according to specific community needs, the MRC functions as a “Clearing house” of extra staff available to help during times of crisis.
As an example, this past summer, a state-wide mandatory dispensary drill was held in Okawville, in response to an “anthrax” outbreak.
The main focus was to immunize first responders who are the first line of defense when an outbreak happens. This must be accomplished quickly and efficiently to maintain a viable and healthy team of responders to be in contact with the public, set up PODS (Point Of Distribution Sites) for medications and supplies for the general public and maintaining documentation.
Our public health department’s did a tremendous job, along with the help of MRC volunteers, in setting up, dispensing and operating a very effective response. Through this coordinated effort, all of the objectives were accomplished and standards were set and documented for use in a real emergency.
Many MRC members are just like you, the reader: community member who believe in keeping our local area healthy, prepared and resilient. They share a commitment to helping others and making a difference.
They also provide services so that our other local services, such as the Health Department and the Emergency Management Agency, can meet their missions. The MRC is a vital asset to Washington County, but can only be maintained through active participation of its volunteers.
With the MRC being a grant-funded entity, certain criteria are established as to functional call-ups per quarter, and must be met. This quarter’s volunteer opportunity was at BCMW Nashville, to help sort and move toys and clothing for their annual BCMW Christmas event. The time involved was minuscule compared to the experience of being “on call”, and ready for deployment, no matter what the event.
The MRC’s goal for 2017 is to increase its roll of volunteers. Unfortunately, we have lost several from past years. If you have an interest in volunteering with the MRC, please contact Linda Drumwright, the MRC Volunteer Coordinator, at the Washington County Emergency Management Agency Office at (618) 327-4800, Extension 340.