In 2002, after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the federal government created an umbrella of volunteer organizations called Citizen Corps to help get local community members engaged in preparedness activities. Several types of volunteer groups fall underneath the Citizen Corps, ranging from Medical Reserve Corps, Volunteer in Police Services, and Community Emergency Response Teams.
Medical Reserve Corps units are typically based out of local health departments which is the case here in Northern Kentucky. The NKMRC unit is made up of about 500 volunteers that have different backgrounds both in the medical and non-medical fields.
This group of individuals is a supplemental workforce should we experience a public health disaster in Northern Kentucky. MRC members could help operate points of dispensing, medical needs shelters and/or alternate care centers, among others functions.
MRC units have been used, including ours in Northern Kentucky. In late 2009 and early 2010, the Health Department called upon MRC members to help work H1N1 swine flu vaccination clinics across Northern Kentucky. During this deployment, more than 500 volunteers donated more than 6000 hours to help us protect their communities.
The dedicated volunteers helped make those clinics a success, providing shots, reviewing forms and answering clinical questions. Some of non-medical volunteers also assisted with supplies, data entry and crowd control/flow.
Fortunately, we rarely need to deploy MRC members. But, in order to keep volunteers trained and engaged, NKY Health hosts several training opportunities throughout the year. The spring is always a busy time with a medical seminar in March that allows volunteers to earn credit hours towards maintaining their medical licensure. In late spring, the annual Tristate Disaster Volunteer Summit is held in partnership with Ohio MRC units and other volunteer groups. During the fall, a CPR class is offered to volunteers. Finally, in recent months, local MRC members have had the chance to be trained in “Stop the Bleed,” where participants learn techniques to help victims of a mass casualty event.
To join the MRC, members must attend an orientation session. The next session is planned for 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20, at the Health Department’s District Office, 610 Medical Village Drive, Edgewood. To learn more about the MRC visit https://nkyhealth.org/community-partner/medical-reserve-corps/or contact me at 859-363-2009 or Jessica.McElroy@nkyhealth.org.