(Riley County, KS – February 7, 2023) In 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded $75,000 in grant funding to the Riley County Health Department to re-establish a local Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) of volunteers. The MRC will serve the entire Wildcat Region, which includes Riley, Geary, and Pottawatomie Counties.
When volunteers join, they go through a background check and emergency response training so they can serve the community during disasters. The MRC prepares for and responds to natural disasters, such as wildfires, floods, and tornadoes, as well as other emergencies affecting public health, such as disease outbreaks.
“Having a ready team of trained and vetted medical volunteers can be a game changer during a disaster,” said Skylar German, Riley County Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. “The national MRC program started after 9/11 when doctors and nurses wanted to help but didn’t have a mechanism that allowed them to step in and lend a hand. Reviving the local volunteer program means our community won’t have to wait for help if they need it.”
MRC volunteers include medical and public health professionals as well as other community members (both with and without healthcare backgrounds) who want to improve the health and safety of their communities. MRC volunteers also regularly contribute to community preparedness, engaging in activities like outreach events and assisting with community vaccination clinics.
MRC Activities include:
- Emergency preparedness and response training exercises
- Emergency shelter operations and medical care
- Disaster medical and behavioral health support
- Community vaccination clinics
- Veterinary care during disasters
“The specific roles and activities performed during and after a disaster will depend upon each volunteer’s background, interests, and skills, as well as the needs of the MRC unit and the community,” said German.
Current, retired, and student medical professionals and veterinary specialists are needed the most. There is no minimum requirement for time commitment, but every volunteer will have to complete a basic level of training and will be given the opportunity to join outreach and education events throughout the year.
“This is a great way for students interested in pursuing a medical or veterinary career to add skills to their resume while giving back to the community. If anyone wants to learn more about the program, or would like help signing up, please reach out to us. We’d be happy to talk with you,” said Pauline Gatica, volunteer coordinator.
To join the Medical Reserve Corps in the Wildcat Region, call Skylar German at the Riley County Health Department at (785) 776-4779 ext. 7633. Volunteers can also fill out the interest form online at www.servks.org. Information about the MRC program is available online at https://aspr.hhs.gov/MRC/Pages/index.aspx
The MRC has been active for twenty years and is comprised of more than 200,000 volunteers in roughly 800 communities nationwide. The need for MRC became apparent after the September 11 terrorist attacks when medical and public health professionals eager to volunteer in support of emergency relief activities, found that there was no organized approach to channel their efforts. As a result, MRC was established as a way to recruit, train, and activate medical and public health professionals and other volunteers to respond to community health needs during disasters and other public health emergencies.
The Riley County Health Department promotes and protects the health and safety of our community through evidence-based practices, prevention, and education. Administrative offices are located at 2030 Tecumseh Road in Manhattan, KS. More information is available online at www.rileycountyks.gov/health. Follow the RCHD on Facebook /Rileycountyhealthdepartment, Twitter @RileyCoHealth, and Instagram /rileycountyhd.