By Beth Taylor
The Medical Reserve Corps is a trained team of volunteers who are dedicated to improving emergency preparedness and strengthening the public health infrastructure. The program was founded after President George W. Bush’s 2002 State of the Union Address in which he asked all Americans to volunteer to support their country. In 2005, the Hamilton County Medical Reserve Corps was established by the Hamilton County Health Dept. to assist with public health emergency preparedness and response.
The HCMRC supplements existing local emergency and public health resources.
“If we don’t have this, then we’re going to strain resources,” said Margaret Zimmerman, Medical Reserve Corps spokeswoman. “We need surge capability.”
Zimmerman said that there are three reasons for surge need: infectious diseases, natural disasters and threats of terrorism.
“To volunteer for MRC, you don’t need to be a medical professional. It’s great if you are, but we need all kinds of people,” she said.
Physicians and nurses as well as veterinarians, mental health professionals and dentists can all serve in times of need. Community members without any medical training can assist with administrative tasks. “We need people who have communications backgrounds to distribute public information. We need people to direct traffic. You need all kinds of folks,” Zimmerman said.
The HCMRC currently has 95 people on the roster.
“We need more volunteers because Hamilton County is a big place. A lot can happen in a big place,” Zimmerman said.
HCMRC volunteers receive initial training with the Hamilton County Health Dept. and local emergency response partners to prepare to respond to public health emergencies. Volunteers are required to do one training session each year and orientation sessions are held quarterly. The sessions include a segment on the basics of family preparedness.
The next HCMRC meeting is 10 a.m. to noon April 18 at the Hamilton County Health Dept., 18030 Foundation Dr., Noblesville. For more information, visit www.hamiltoncounty.in.gov or contact Linda Foley at Linda.Foley@hamiltoncounty.in.gov.