©2018 by Medical Association of Georgia

VISION STATEMENT

The vision of the MAG Medical Reserve Corps is to enlist citizen volunteers to assist in the establishment of an organized, prescreened, cadre of resources capable of deployment to support Emergency Management Systems already in place in the event of a major emergency. The goal is to function in a support role in providing volunteer medical professionals and resources to augment those services in the community that are engaged in the health and welfare of the citizens.

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ABOUT MAG MRC

GOALS 

  • Promote purpose and scope of the MAG Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Unit

  • Establish community partnerships

  • Identify financial needs and funding sources

  • Staff MAG MRC Unit organizational structure and unit composition

  • Define and implement procedures for MAG MRC Unit volunteer recruitment

  • Establish parameters and procedures for volunteer screening and selection

  • Implement volunteer training program

  • Implement MAG MRC unit policies and procedures for unit administration, including strategies for volunteer retention and recognition and risk management

  • Goal: 100 volunteers 

WHAT IS A MEDICAL RESERVE CORPS?

In his 2002 State of the Union Message, President George W. Bush called on all Americans to make a lifetime commitment of at least 4,000 hours – the equivalent of two years of their lives – to serve their communities, the nation, and the world.

 

President Bush announced the creation of USA Freedom Corps to help Americans answer his call to service and to foster a culture of citizenship and responsibility.

 

The Citizen Corps is the component of USA Freedom Corps that creates local opportunities for individuals to volunteer to help their communities prepare for and respond to emergencies.

 

The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is the component of the Citizen Corps that will bring together local health professionals, community volunteers to provide support services, and others with relevant skills.

The MRC is a national network of volunteers, organized locally to improve the health and safety of their communities. The MRC network comprises 993 community-based units and 207,783 volunteers located throughout the United States and its territories. Georgia has 19 approved MRCs.

MRC volunteers include medical and public health professionals, as well as other community members without health care backgrounds. MRC units engage these volunteers to strengthen public health, improve emergency response capabilities and build community resiliency.

 

They prepare for and respond to natural disasters (i.e., wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and floods) as well as other emergencies affecting public health (i.e., disease outbreaks). They frequently contribute to community health activities that promote healthy habits.

 

Examples of activities that MRC volunteers participate in and support include...

  • Emergency preparedness and response training

  • Health screenings

  • Emergency sheltering

  • Obesity reduction

  • Responder rehab

  • Vaccination clinics

  • Disaster medical support

  • Outreach to underserved community members

  • Disaster risk reduction

  • Heart health and tobacco cessation

  • Medical facility surge capacity

  • Engaging youth in public health activities

  • First aid during large public gatherings

  • Community event support

  • Planning, logistical, & administrative support

  • Healthy living

  • Veterinary support and pet preparedness

  • Health education and promotion

 

The Division of the Civilian Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps (DCVMRC) is the national program office of the MRC and is housed within the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The DCVMRC oversees 11 MRC Regional Coordinators that represent the 10 MRC regions across the United States and its territories.

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The DCVMRC supports the MRC network by providing technical assistance, coordination, communications, strategy and policy development, grants and contract oversight, training, and other associated services. It functions as a clearinghouse for information and best practices to help communities establish, implement, and maintain MRC units in order to achieve their local visions for public health and emergency preparedness.

HISTORY OF THE MAG MRC

The concept of the what has become the MAG MRC started with a conversation with John Harvey, M.D., and Paul Hildreth over lunch at Johnny's Pizza in Alpharetta in 2012. Hildreth and Dr. Harvey discussed how an organization could be created that would solely support some specific goals/missions as needed by the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) Emergency Preparedness team. Specifically, there was a void in having a "ready" team that would fully support the mission of setting up and initially running a portable hospital system in Georgia. Many local MRC teams had been working on this concept – to include training and more – but there was still a void that needed to be filled in the preparedness efforts of the state.  

At MAG's October 2013 annual House of Delegate’s Session, delegates unanimously supported House Resolution 112A.13 which resolved to establish a MRC within the Medical Association of Georgia for the purpose of training physicians and coordinating physician medical assistance through MAG to effectively respond to declared emergency response events in the state of Georgia. Under the combined team effort of MAG and GDPH, the MAG MRC registration application was accepted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in October 2014.

 

The statewide specialty MAG-sponsored Medical Reserve Corps is a state emergency medical response system, trained and readily available to help the state manage pressing public health needs, improvements and education. The MRC is sponsored by MAG in cooperation with the GDPH Emergency Preparedness and Response Unit. The MAG MRC Unit is designed to primarily be activated under the direction of GDPH.

The designated point of contact is the Director of Health Protection with DPH. The MAG MRC may also be activated by MAG MRC leadership team as necessary. The MAG MRC Unit will supplement the GDPH Emergency Preparedness’ and Response Unit. The unit will not replace or supplant the existing emergency medical response system or its resources including locally based MRC units.

The MAG MRC is an active member of the MRC network. It participates in regional and national MRC meetings, shares information with other MRC units including promising practices, updates the unit profile quarterly and interacts with the MRC Regional Coordinator on a consistent basis.

The MAG MRC Unit has one primary and two secondary responsibilities. Its primary role is to set up the mobile hospital systems. Its secondary responsibility may be to provide an important “surge” capability usually performed by emergency medical response teams who have been mobilized. MAG MRC volunteers can also augment medical and support staff shortages at local medical or emergency facilities.

 

Specifically, the MAG MRC Unit will...

  1. Provide team/s to setup and assemble portable hospital(s) at the direction of GA Division of Public Health.

  2. Provide medical support to staff hospital positions at the portable hospital(s).

  3. Provide Incident Management Team to facilitate hospital administration functions at the portable hospital(s).

  4. Provide MRC team members with family support in emergencies during crisis when team members are at active duty site, including vaccinations and medical support. This level of support will include private family only site POD so active members can focus on serving in the capacity needed, knowing that their families are being attended to with great care.

  5. Draw health professionals into volunteer service and provide professional development opportunities to those active in the MAG MRC.

  6. Provide support to the shelter operations system in the State with medical support (added in May 2017).

FAQ

I SEE MANY VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES WITH EMERGENCY RESPONSE AND PREPAREDNESS GROUPS. WHY SHOULD I BECOME AN MRC VOLUNTEER?

Communities benefit from having MRC volunteers ready to respond to emergencies. People volunteer for many reasons, but some volunteer for the MRC because...

  • It's a way to offer their skills that might not have been used before because they were not adequately prepared to be part of the response effort.

  • It's a significant benefit to communities because skilled volunteers offer services during the year to augment existing public health efforts or provide emergency backup that would not otherwise be available.

  • It's a chance to belong to a group with a strong sense of mission and purpose.

  • It's a chance to qualify for special incentives (e.g., free training).

  • Volunteers are at the very heart of the MRC. The existence of this nationwide, community-based movement is due to the willingness of volunteer medical and public health professionals to serve their communities in times of need. Without that generous offer of service, there would be no MRC.​

ARE THERE CORE COMPETENCIES REQUIRED TO BECOME AN MRC VOLUNTEER?

MAG MRC has developed the MRC Core Competencies Matrix, which is a suggested guide for training MRC volunteers at the local level. Core Competencies represent the baseline level of knowledge and skills that all MRC volunteers should have, regardless of their roles within the MRC unit. They also provide a framework for units' training component and assist in describing what communities can expect of their MRCs. Because the core competencies establish only a minimum standard, units may choose to expand on the competencies to train volunteers at a more advanced level. Units may also choose to link the MRC core competencies to other existing sets of competencies for health professionals.

WHAT TRAINING DO I NEED TO BECOME AN MRC VOLUNTEER?

Emergency preparedness and response is a highly coordinated effort that allows communities to maximize their capabilities during times of extraordinary disorganization and stress. Volunteers may already know how to perform some of the necessary medical and health functions. In most cases, training as an MRC volunteer focuses primarily on learning local emergency and health procedures, trauma response techniques, use of specialized equipment, and other methods to enhance volunteer effectiveness.

 

Perhaps the most important part of training is learning how to work as a team member. An organized, well-trained MRC unit is familiar with its community's response plan, knows what materials are available, knows its response partners, and knows where its skills can be put to best use in a coordinated manner.

WHAT TYPE OF TRAINING IS AVAILABLE FOR MRC VOLUNTEERS?

All MRC volunteers need to undergo some form of orientation to the MRC, which includes an overview of the system in which the MRC's activities occur, whether in relation to emergency response or public health, or both.

 

Support/administrative volunteers receive guidance on how to perform their functions, which vary depending on the needs of particular communities. They may need to participate in practice drills if their duties interface with those of the front-line/direct-service volunteers. Overall, the training includes support skills training, communications, public speaking, and Incident Command System, or other local command systems.

 

Training requirements for front-line/direct-service volunteers is typically extensive and specialized. Generally, these volunteers receive training in primary emergency response and public health procedures, including basic life support and CPR; Community Emergency Response Team training; identifying the signs, symptoms, and treatment of hazardous materials (including nuclear, biological, and chemical agents); and basic first aid skills to deal with emergencies such as shock, allergic reactions, bleeding, broken bones, burns, chemical splashes, choking, eye injuries, skin wounds, dislocations, head trauma, heat exhaustion, stroke, and poisoning.

WHO IS LIABLE IF I AM INJURED OR HURT WHILE SERVING AS AN MRC VOLUNTEER?

Liability protection standards require volunteer-based organizations to train their volunteers in accordance with all policies and procedures, particularly those intended to reduce the incidence of harm. Different localities are subject to different legal liability laws and standards. All volunteer organizations want to protect their volunteers; liability protection for volunteers is an advocacy issue and a reasonable concern for many MRC units.

 

Liability also is a highly complex area of the law, compounded by innumerable differences at the local level. Understanding and interpreting liability is based on individual cases and varied interpretations of the statutes in specific states. Because the rules and laws vary, it is not possible for the MRC Program Office to provide information applicable to all 50 states and to all jurisdictions within them. Even within a specific jurisdiction and given a specific set of facts, no one can predict with certainty whether a liability suit will succeed.

WHAT TYPE OF BACKGROUND DO I NEED TO BECOME AN MRC VOLUNTEER?

The MRC program seeks volunteers to assist with emergency preparedness and response efforts. Volunteers in the MRC program include…

  • Practicing, retired, or otherwise employed medical professionals, such as doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, pharmacists, nurses' assistants, and others.

  • Public health professionals.

  • Community members without medical training can assist with administrative and other essential support functions.

IS THE MRC VOLUNTEER PROGRAM ONLY FOR MEDICAL OR HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS?

No. The MRC program seeks medical and public health professionals to assist with emergency preparedness and response efforts. However, other volunteers who have no medical or health care backgrounds also are needed to properly conduct emergency preparedness and response efforts. Community members without medical training can assist with administrative and other essential support functions. These volunteers give their time on an ongoing basis in coordination with other experts willing to donate their time and knowledge for special aspects of the effort.

WHAT DO INDIVIDUALS WITH A MEDICAL OR HEALTH CARE BACKGROUND DO AS AN MRC VOLUNTEER?

Major emergencies can overwhelm the capabilities of first responders, particularly during the first 12 to 72 hours. Medical and other health volunteers can provide an important "surge" capacity during this critical period. They also can augment medical staff shortages at local medical and emergency facilities. In short, communities often need medically trained individuals to fill in the gaps in their emergency response plans and to improve their response capabilities overall.

 

Possible types of "front-line" medical and public health volunteers include...

  • Physicians (including surgeons, medical specialists, osteopaths)

  • Physician assistants

  • Nurses (nurse practitioners, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants)

  • Pharmacists

  • Dentists

  • Dental assistants

  • Optometrists

  • Veterinarians

  • Emergency medical technicians

  • Public health workers

  • Epidemiologists

  • Infectious disease specialists

  • Toxicologists

  • Mental health practitioners (psychologists, substance abuse counselors, social workers)

  • Health educators/communicators

  • Other medical and public health professionals

WHAT DO INDIVIDUALS WITH A NON-MEDICAL OR HEALTH CARE BACKGROUND DO AS AN MRC VOLUNTEER?

Individuals with a non-medical or health care background typically serve their community by assisting with administrative and other essential support functions. Possible types of administrative and other support volunteers include...

  • Administrators and business managers

  • Administrative assistants and office support staff

  • Drivers

  • Chaplains

  • Training directors

  • Trainers

  • Volunteer coordinators

  • Fundraising professionals

  • Supply and logistics managers

  • Interpreters/translators

  • Amateur radio operators

  • Other support personnel

DO MRC VOLUNTEERS ONLY HELP IN DISASTER TIME (DURING EMERGENCY SITUATIONS)?

Although the MRC volunteers are ready to respond to disasters or emergencies, part of the MRC program's mission is to foster disaster preparedness. MRC volunteers also are called to help during non-emergency times.  Our goal is to present to you many opportunities and as a volunteer, you are only required to respond to your ability to serve. No one is ever required or forced to respond to any real world event or training. We have found that the more opportunities that team members participate, the more effective they become in responding as a team member.

HOW DO MRC VOLUNTEERS HELP IN NON-EMERGENCY TIMES (SITUATIONS)?

During non-emergent times, MRC volunteers strengthen the overall health of Americans by participating in general public health initiatives such as flu vaccination clinics and diabetes detection programs. The overarching goal is to improve health literacy, and in support of this, MRC volunteers are encouraged to increase disease prevention, eliminating health disparities, in addition to public health preparedness.

ONCE I BECOME AN MRC VOLUNTEER, WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM NOT AVAILABLE ALL THE TIME?

Volunteer availability is discussed during the MRC volunteer application process. MRC volunteers do not have to be available all the time. Some volunteers may only be interested in making a minimal commitment during times of crisis or for other specific community needs. These preferences are respected, given that they can be accommodated by the MRC unit's mission and work plan.

 

MRC Unit Coordinators match community needs for emergency medical response and public health initiatives with volunteer capabilities. They also determine prospective volunteers' availability and whether they have other obligations, such as regular work responsibilities, that might conflict with serving the MRC in times of limited advanced notice. Different people will have different amounts of time to give. Some may not be available year-round, and others may need to be utilized throughout the year to remain engaged with the MRC.

I AM INTERESTED IN BECOMING AN MRC VOLUNTEER. WHAT DO I DO FIRST?

The first step in becoming an MRC volunteer is to contact the MAG MRC at 678.303.9290.

State Emergency Registry of Volunteers (SERVEGA) FAQ

Click here for the SERVEGA FAQ.