Medical Reserve Corps forms in Summit County
Volunteers who are trained medical professionals are being recruited by Summit County to join a new team to respond to massive emergencies in the area.
"I spoke with a potential candidate who is filling his (application) out and returning it to us," Summit County Medical Reserve Corps Coordinator Robbie Beck said. "He happens to belong to a ski patrol up here."
Since 2002 reserve corps groups have formed throughout the nation under the guise of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. With formation of the Summit County Medical Reserve Corps the total number of teams reached 500.
"With Utah’s remarkable reputation for volunteerism, I think it’s fitting that the corps’ milestone happen in the Beehive State," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said. "Medical Reserve Corps members are eager to volunteer their life-saving services, not only in their own communities, but elsewhere in the nation when the call to serve comes."
The program was established in the wake of 9/11 to better prepare citizens to respond to terrorist attacks and was deployed during Hurricane Katrina.
"Because [members] are already trained and credentialed, public health agencies can call on them immediately to respond after a natural disaster or terrorist strike," Hatch said.
Meanwhile, Summit County’s Medical Reserve Corps could be deployed to searches to treat volunteers hurt while looking for people who are lost in the woods, Beck said, adding, "especially when there is a great big search and hordes of people."
"There is need in the community that we can meet rather than sitting here and waiting for bird flu to show up," she said. "And it provides an opportunity for our first responders to stay more in the communities and service what is happening in the communities."
To become part of Summit County’s Medical Reserve Corps licensed physicians, nurses, pharmacists, veterinarians, epidemiologists, mental health professionals and other certified health workers should contact Beck at (435) 659-1916.
"If you have lots of volunteer searchers that are out there, a lot of times we don’t know about the injuries until late in the incident and then we have to re-direct professional search-and-rescue people," Summit County Emergency Management Director Butch Swenson said. "If we had a way that these people could be brought back to our command center it would be a lot easier."
The corps hopes to recruit veterinarians to treat dogs and horses injured while searching.
"Horses get a lot of cuts," Swenson said.
The 12 local health departments in Utah are each forming a corps, Beck said.
"It’s relatively new for the majority of health departments in Utah," she said.
In the event of an earthquake the volunteers could help establish "rally points" in the community where the "walking injured" would be treated, Swenson said.
"The rally points are those areas where people will end up being sheltered," he added.
More information about the program can be obtained at citizencorps.gov.
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