About the Medical Reserve Corps
The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) at the Central District Health (CDH) is a community-based program that functions as a way to organize and utilize medical and non-medical volunteers who want to donate their time and valuable skills to prepare for and respond to community-wide public health emergencies as well as promote healthy living and other public health activities throughout the year. The CDH-MRC functions as part of the Public Health Preparedness Program within the Central District Health.
After the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001, many Americans asked, “What can I do to help?” Medical professionals were among those who wanted to volunteer their services, but many were not able to find a way to do so. While they had very necessary skills and knowledge, medical personnel could not be “called up” because they were not identified, credentialed, or trained in advance.
The anthrax attacks in the Fall of 2001 reinforced the need for pre-qualified and trained supplemental medical and public health personnel to assist with emergency operations such as mass antibiotic dispensing or mass immunization campaigns.
To help meet these needs, the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) program was formed in 2002. Recruiting, training, and organizing medical and public health professionals to strengthen their communities through volunteerism are at the core of the MRC concept. MRC volunteers offer their expertise throughout the year by supporting local public health initiatives, such as immunization and other public health activities. When a community-wide public health emergency occurs, MRC volunteers work in coordination with existing local emergency response plans.
Volunteers are the very heart of the MRC. The existence of this nationwide, community-based program is due to the willingness of volunteer medical and non-medical members of the community to serve their fellow residents in times of need.
Major emergencies can easily overwhelm the capabilities of professional first responders. Medical and other volunteers can provide an important “surge” capacity during this critical period. Volunteer resources are needed to improve our community’s overall response capabilities.
During normal operation, or times of non-emergency, MRC volunteers offer their expertise by supporting a number of local public health initiatives, such as immunization and education activities.
The Medical Reserve Corps gives both medical and non-medical volunteers a chance to join a network of people who are trained and ready to respond to an emergency when called upon to assist local health and safety officials, as well as assist in the day-to-day mission of improving the health of our communities.
People without medical training are encouraged to join the MRC. Their skills, although not medical, are valuable and necessary to fill key support positions during any response.
Training as an MRC volunteer focuses primarily on becoming familiar with our community’s emergency response plans, learning local emergency and health procedures, use of specialized equipment that may be necessary in case of a public health emergency response, and means to enhance volunteer effectiveness.
Overall, training includes support skills training, primary emergency response procedures, and an introduction to the Incident Command System (ICS100 and IS700). All MRC volunteers also undergo an orientation to the program which includes an in-depth look at our emergency response role and how we fit in to the overall public health plan.
As often as possible, we will be making a number of other training opportunities available, completely free of charge, to MRC members such as Psychological First Aid, Public Health 101 – the Basics, Family Disaster Preparedness, among others.
The CDH-MRC program is made up of all different types of volunteers with all different types of schedules and outside commitments. Outside of the required, brief orientation and ICS training session, our program has no minimum time commitment. Some of our volunteers want only to be contacted in the case of large-scale public health emergencies, while others want to help-out whenever they can on a number of different projects throughout the year. It’s really up to the individual. When a volunteer opportunity is available, members are notified, usually via e-mail, and those that are able and interested are encouraged to reply.
Becoming a Medical Reserve Corps Volunteer is easy, just visit www.volunteeridaho.org to register. (When you visit this website, Central District Health is identified as Health District #4.)
You do not need to be a U.S. citizen to be part of the MRC.