September is National Preparedness Month.
The recent threat of two devastating hurricanes and their damage and wildfires in the Pacific Northwest reminds us that we DO need volunteers to help in the recovery process. In other areas of public concern volunteers are needed also.
For the Meigs County Health Department (MCHD) we need 2 types of volunteers:
1. Medically trained (nurses, doctors) for large outbreaks where mass vaccination clinics are needed, or for large -scale mass-casualty incidents (car and train wrecks, aircraft crashes, etc.). These incidents require a large group of medically-trained people, to vaccinate or treat people who are victims of the outbreak or incident.
2. Knowledgeable volunteers who can read information to people, help with forms, park cars, move materials and all the other important tasks necessary for the response.
These volunteers are the backbone for performing major tasks in needed times.
Most of MCHD volunteer needs are covered by the Meigs County Medical Reserve Corps (MCMRC), and it’s hosted by the MCHD. The MCMRC is truly a “volunteer” organization since the Federal Government has stopped its annual funding of $3,500. The funding was small but it provided for uniform shirts, hats, safety vests, mileage costs for travel (if needed) and some equipment. After all, an infrastructure is needed for support services.
MCHD now supports the MCMRC to keep it viable, but our presence is limited to one or two exercises or real-life events each year.
For medically-trained volunteers we have a working agreement with the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Nursing to use their student nurses for duties during flu clinics. During flu season last year, we used 10 nursing students (as MRC volunteers) at our off-site clinics to give them real-world experience outside of their classrooms.
We also have an agreement with the Meigs Emergency Management Agency to request help if needed. The local American Red Cross is also a good resource for the MCMRC to use for knowledgeable volunteers. In the past, the MCMRC has used and trained senior citizens from the Meigs County Council on Aging. And, of course MCHD personnel are MRC volunteers as requested.
The MCMRC also participates in the MCEMA/LEPC (Local Emergency Planning Committee) exercises each year. We get to exercise our capabilities in conjunction with the Meigs County EMA, Emergency Medical Services, 9-1-1, local fire and law enforcement, the local Red Cross, township trustees and local healthcare providers. We do the best we can with the little we have and stay in practice. We also help the clean-up days at the fairgrounds. We perform diverse duties!
Interested? Is your curiosity piqued? Maybe you want to volunteer? Well this how to do it!
Please go to our website www.meigs-health.com, click on “Emergency Preparedness/Medical Reserve Corps/MRC Volunteer Registration Form.” A .pdf document will appear. Print it, fill it and mail it to MCHD. The document asks you to also volunteer for OhioResonds.com, but that is an option only if want to volunteer for anywhere else in OHIO.
Or you can visit the MCHD (112 East Memorial Drive) during normal business hours (Mon-Fri 8AM-4PM) and pick up a paper copy to complete.
WE want all types of volunteers! So, go ahead volunteer and join the MCMRC!
By Frank Gorscak, MCHD Emergency Response Coordinator
Frank Gorscak is the Emergency Response Coordinator at the Meigs County Health Department.