By Katherine Deffer, NACCHO Senior Program Analyst
The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) program was created to provide trained medical and non-medical volunteers as support to local public health agencies, emergency preparedness initiatives, and emergency response missions. Since the inception of the program, MRC Volunteers have proven their ability to protect their local communities and respond to public health emergencies at the local, regional, and state level. In fact, Emergency Planners and Volunteer Coordinators are increasingly deploying MRC Volunteers to support response missions across the country. As State Emergency Planners turn to Mission Ready Packages (MRPs) for their response requirements and preparedness planning, it is important to not overlook the experience and resources the MRC program can offer to advance and further this process.
State Emergency Planners are increasingly using Mission Ready Packages (MRPs) as a means to pre-identify emergency response resources available through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). MRPs are specific response and recovery capabilities that are organized, developed, trained, and exercised prior to an emergency or disaster. States may elect to identify MRPs and make them available through MASS 2.0, an online inventory system. MRPs provide a means for states to rapidly identify resources available to meet their response needs, when they have exceeded their internal response capabilities.
The MRP template includes detailed information about the resource, which allows State Emergency Agencies to determine if the resource meets their needs. Pre-identified resource information is put into an Excel template and includes information such as; Mission Ready Package title, resource owner/provider information; NIMS resource type; details on resource capabilities; resource footprint and logistics support needed; limitations to the resource; and cost estimates for travel, personnel, equipment, commodities, and other expenses. More information on MRP’s and EMAC can be found at www.nema.org.
Utilizing MRC Volunteers to source a MRP
Emergency response resources are a scarce commodity and MRC Volunteers can be a valuable resource for Emergency Managers developing MRP’s. MRC units interested in being a source provider for MRP’s through the EMAC system should first coordinate with their State MRC Coordinator and State Emergency Agency. Together, they will need to determine the medical or public health MRP’s their state has submitted into EMAC, or to help identify MRP’s they can source. It is important to note, that when MRC Volunteers are engaged, they must be trained to meet the MRP resource mission requirements, including any required licenses or credentials. These individuals must also be physically able and willing to deploy on short notice.
At the local level, Emergency Managers and MRC Coordinators can use the MRP template as a model to pre-identify MRC resources and capabilities for resource gaps in their emergency response plans. Identifying and training MRC Volunteers to fill MRP’s provides a mission focused opportunity for MRC Volunteers to set goals, participate in specialized training, and be prepared to assist in major disaster responses. Instituting training for MRC Volunteers or teams to support MRP’s is a logical step for planners to meet their community preparedness response needs and build strong and resilient communities.
Through a cooperative agreement with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and the MRC Program, NACCHO is developing resources to assist MRC Coordinators interested in utilizing the MRP template as a model to develop emergency response teams based on their community response needs. NACCHO conducted an informational webinar (click to access the webinar recording and downloadable slides) this September, providing an overview of MRC response missions, MRC resource capabilities, and the value of utilizing MRP’s to develop mission ready volunteers to support community response needs. For additional information, please visit the NACCHO MRC webpage.