In 2012, Sacred Heart University partnered with the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), a national volunteer service. This partnership arose with the help of Dr. Linda Strong from Sacred Heart’s College of Nursing.
The MRC is an organization that improves the health and safety of communities nationwide by responding to local and regional emergencies and disasters.
Dr. Sophia Pendley, co-leader of the MRC at Sacred Heart, said, “The reason for establishing this partnership was to develop and coordinate a network of volunteers who would be ready to assist in the event of local and regional emergencies or disasters.”
The MRC has 185,000 volunteers in 800 different communities in the United States. “It is sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,” said Pendley.
In order to join the MRC, no medical background is required. The members of MRC include medical and public health professionals as well as other community members who do not have healthcare backgrounds.
There will be a training session held on Nov. 30 and students and faculty are welcome to attend over Zoom. To secure a spot in the training session, participants must RSVP before Nov. 30.
The MRC training program will include five total training sessions a year, along with monthly sessions for those who need it. The first session will primarily focus on setting up a volunteer profile, with special attention to availability and restrictions.
The following sessions will include MRC introductions and expectations: “Health Education” and “Equity for Vaccine Promotion.” Other information that will be covered includes “Appropriate Protocols for Safety during Vaccine Campaigns” and “Introduction to the Incident Command System.”
Professor Corinne Lee, co-leader of the MRC at Sacred Heart, said, “The mission of the Sacred Heart MRC is to develop and coordinate a network of volunteers who will support the Connecticut Department of Emergency Management, and Homeland Security Region 1 efforts. MRC seeks to strengthen public health, reduce vulnerability, build resilience, and improve preparedness, response, and recovery capabilities.”
While being a part of the MRC, volunteers will work to improve matters in public health, response capabilities and community resiliency. “They prepare for and respond to natural disasters, such as wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, and floods, as well as other emergencies affecting public health, such as disease outbreaks,” said Lee.
Other volunteer work includes emergency sheltering, responder rehab, disaster medical support, disaster risk reduction, vaccination clinics, health and education promotion, outreach to underserved community members, community event support and healthy living.
“Our first initiative will be to support the Connecticut Department of Public Health and local health departments as they establish ‘Vaccination Strike Teams,’” said Lee. “This will be vital to the vaccinations that will be released in the coming year.”
Roles for these specific teams will include vaccinators, greeters, form distributors and form checkers, as well as volunteers in charge of logistics and inventory.
The MRC will not have a limit on volunteers. Any student or faculty member is welcome to attend the training session. In order to RSVP, contact Professor Lee or Dr. Pendley.