By Brennan J. Leddy, M.A.Ed, Communications Specialist, Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Program, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is a national network of volunteers, organized locally to improve the health and safety of their communities. Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, the MRC program was created to engage volunteers to strengthen public health and community resilience following President George W. Bush’s 2002 State of the Union Address that called on Americans to volunteer in support of their country.
What started with just 42 community-based units that first year, the MRC is now almost 1,000 units strong with nearly 200,000 volunteers — from youth to retirees — with medical, public health, emergency management, and other backgrounds. From being among the first to respond to natural disasters; to organizing health screenings; to leading preparedness training exercises, MRC volunteers are not only on the front lines of emergency response, but are continually working to reduce disaster risk and build healthy and resilient communities starting at the local level.
The MRC Program, which has been a long-standing NACCHO partner and Preparedness Summit participant, is excited that members of their network — including MRC volunteers, unit coordinators, and program leadership —will again be participating in the 2017 Preparedness Summit. They will share their experiences, best practices, and lessons learned throughout the program’s history and in today’s ever-evolving public health and emergency response environments. A quick look at each of the MRC-related sessions is outlined below, with topics ranging from volunteer management to confronting public health emergencies to preparing local communities for disasters (and more). Click here to start adding these sessions to your interactive Preparedness Summit schedule.
Tuesday, April 25; 1:30-3:00 PM
Successful Collaboration: How the New Jersey Zika Response Capitalized on Medical Reserve Corps Resources
Leveraging the MRC program’s unique partnership structure, the state of New Jersey was able to capitalize on MRC resources to advance Zika Virus prevention and mitigation measures across the state. The result: a network of federal, state, and local actors working in concert to advance preparedness goals. This session will trace the evolution of this unique partnership, look at the dual nature of capacity building and partnership development work, highlight the adept and flexible nature of local MRC programs, as well as unpack how greater gains to preparedness and response can be realized through effective partnerships.
Creative Preparedness Outreach to Vulnerable Populations
It is challenging for anyone to cope with disasters. Yet the upheavals from sheltering-in-place or evacuating to an emergency shelter are even harder for the elderly. Learn how public health can harness partnerships and technology to identify and serve those who are most in need of assistance. This session will show how public health can harness partnerships and technology to identify and serve those who are most in need of assistance.
Staging Liaisons: Developing Volunteer Leaders within the Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps
Volunteer leadership is a medical reserve corps (MRC) Core Competency; this need was recognized in Oklahoma following the May 2013 tornadoes. This session discusses the Oklahoma MRC’s Staging Liaison position. Attendees will gain insight into creating volunteer leader positions, developing training curriculum, and purchasing equipment, as well as how these leaders can be put into action.
Wednesday, April 26; 8:30-10:00 AM
Mission Ready Packages: Leveraging Medical Reserve Corps Volunteers for Emergency Responses
Emergency response resources are a scarce commodity and as witnessed during Hurricane Matthew, State Emergency Managers are increasingly requesting and deploying pre-identified resources through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) Mission Ready Packages (MRPs) inventory. Medical Reserve Corps volunteers are a valuable resource for Emergency Managers to consider as they develop their all hazard response plans. Over the history of the MRC, volunteers have deployed at the local, regional, and state level to respond across the spectrum of emergencies. As the number and types of MRPs expand, there is an opportunity to develop or identify MRPs that the MRC is capable of resourcing. NACCHO’s Medical Reserve Corps Mission Ready Packages workgroup examined Emergency Mutual Assistance Compact MRPs and opportunities for the MRC. In this session, presenters will use examples of previous response missions, aligning MRC capabilities and developing deployable resources for local, intrastate, and interstate emergency response missions.
10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Medical Reserve Corps Town Hall
The Deputy Director of the Medical Reserve Corps Program will provide an overview of the MRC network and share highlights of current efforts and collaborations with partners. Panelists from the American Red Cross, Georgia’s Division of Health Protection/Emergency Preparedness, and the Public Health Reserve Corps of Seattle and King County (WA) will discuss various efforts and best practices related to policies on volunteerism in public health preparedness and response.
What to do now? A Strategic Look at Managing, Maintaining and Engaging MRC Volunteers
- Part A: The 80/20 Rule in Reverse: A Strategic Look at Changing Volunteer Engagement Patterns
Most volunteer organizations follow the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the people. What about the remaining 80 percent of the people? Is the 20 percent of the work they do necessary and valuable? This session will discuss how to capitalize on this underused segment of your volunteer organization.
- Part B: You Asked, They Came, Now What? Building and Maintaining a Positive Volunteer Program
Volunteers don’t join to be on a database. They join to be useful to their community now and when disaster strikes. Wonder what it takes to have a successful volunteer program? Come to this fast moving presentation to learn best practices, tools, and skills you can use now.
Health and Medical Volunteers in 2042: The Future of the Disaster Volunteer Workforce
During this session, a panel of leading experts will engage participants in discussion on possibilities for disaster health volunteerism in the next 25 years. Workshop participants will brainstorm on what the desired future state for volunteerism looks like, and provide feedback on the incremental goals and actions needed to achieve it.
Thursday, April 27; 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Mass Casualty Incidents and Family Reunification After Disasters
- Part A: Mass Casualty Incidents in Rural Communities
Mass casualty incidents are a growing public health concern no matter the size or location. It has become increasingly important to plan regionally for these events before tragedy strikes your community.
- Part B: Real-Time Patient Search: Family Reunification Using Health Information Exchanges
Family reunification in the aftermath of a mass casualty incident is extremely challenging and stressful for emergency management, the healthcare system, and the public. Learn how using a real-time search tool leveraging Health Information Exchanges can vastly enhance the family reunification process and reduce the burden for all stakeholders.
- Part C: Reuniting Children with Their Families after Disasters: Collaborating with Outside Agencies to Ensure Success and Best Practices
This session will introduce attendees to the concepts and challenges of family reunification, highlighting real-life challenges related to reunification after national disasters; outline the process for developing family reunification plans consistent with the Incident Command System; and emphasize the necessary involvement of outside agencies in the planning process.
Introducing First Care: Teaching the Public to Provide Immediate Life-Sustaining Care
When a traumatic injury occurs, any delay to initiate care can result in death. This session will teach participants about resources available for them to teach the public how to provide potentially life-saving interventions to those in need prior to the arrival of emergency services.
How Best to Use Medical Reserve Corps and Volunteers to Address the Opioid Crisis
During this session, participants will learn how the Rhode Island Medical Reserve Corps’ (RIMRC) Naloxone and Overdose Prevention Education Program collaborates with partners to leverage RIMRC’s health professional volunteers to expand the state’s opioid overdose prevention efforts, providing resources and training to public safety organizations, including police and fire, medical and behavioral health professionals, and schools.
Using Volunteer Leaders to Enhance Capacity for Public Health Outreach
Every public health organization wishes they could do more. But staff limitations often limit the amount of public health outreach that can be accomplished. In the Volunteer Leader model that will be discussed during this session, Medical Reserve Corps volunteers are trained to manage public health sites and the volunteers who serve there.
Capturing Capacity in a Response
Responses are often defined by mobilization of resources, yet this “surge” doesn’t always translate into sustained growth. This session will explore how the Medical Reserve Corps of Puerto Rico was able to position their unit to capture capacity gains realized during the Zika response, in tandem with providing critical support.
Friday, April 28; 8:30-10:00 AM
On Pins and Needles: Using the Acupuncture Mission Ready Package
During this session, participants will learn how acupuncturists can integrate into your local Medical Reserve Corps, why are they are considered a valuable resource, and how to use the acupuncture resource during deployments and in times of peace.
Lessons Learned from National Security Special Events and Mass Gatherings in Big Cities
During this session, Cities Health Coalition members will discuss the role of local public health in planning for and responding to National Special Security Events, such as the 2015 Papal visit to Philadelphia, the 2016 Presidential Nominating Conventions, and the 2017 Super Bowl, including Medical Reserve Corps deployment, mass medication administration, and enhanced regional disease surveillance.