Saturday, October 17, 2009

I'm a volunteer in the Medical Reserve Corps

I first learned about the medical reserve corps a few years ago when I was having waves of panic about Avian Influenza (H5N1). I'd heard on the news that one metropolitan region was more prepared for a pandemic than others and I thought, what about my county? How are my local government and districts were planning to handle a disaster? I also wondered how individual communities would organize if the infrastructure broke down.

During an internet search, I found the Medical Reserve Corps. They were traveling to communities and giving presentations on preparedness and I thought this would be great for my neighborhood association! Or at the very least, maybe somebody else would listen to their messag and share my urgency. They gave a very polished presentation, complete with a well-produced video, which stuck with me. The presenter suggested that I volunteer for the MRC, but I demurred. I had two young, very demanding children at home, and didn't think I could easily pull away.

Fast forward to two months ago, the swine flu has been identified as a pandemic and they were anticipating that a vaccine would be ready later in the season, and I remembered the MRC. They needed volunteers! I signed up online and received an activation notice just last week. I attended an orientation a few days ago and am currently sitting in the preparation session to help with distributing vaccines next weekend on October 24th.

They notified me that my role on the 24th is "administrative assistant" since I have no medical training. I'll be helping with whatever non-medical tasks that need doing, like traffic flow, checking people in, helping with forms, or helping people find the exit when they're done. Of the 1.2 MILLION residents, they're hoping to treat 50,000 of the 220,000 school-aged residents this coming weekend. With this goal, MRC is about 4,000 volunteers short.

The distribution centers are going to be at middle schools with school-age children as the target population. Do go and get your vaccination! Volunteer if you can. It's going to be tough, crazy, and lots of work. Wish me luck!

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