Jun 23, 2022 - COVID

Medical Reserve Corps ready for anything

Illustration of blueprints with am ambulance emergency symbol drawn.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

As last week's power outage entered its third day, volunteers with the Franklin County & Columbus Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) prepared to mobilize.

  • Power was soon restored and they weren't called to action, but the group knew it was worth being prepared had things turned catastrophic.
  • "It's kind of counter-intuitive," Garrett Crane, MRC's coordinator, tells Axios, "but the best possible outcome is that nothing happens."

The big picture: MRC is a trained group of civilian volunteers organized by the county's emergency management and homeland security office.

  • Its nearly 3,000 members include medical personnel and other professionals, from engineers to language interpreters, who help assist first responders with major disasters and medical emergencies.
  • All MRC's work is done after it receives an invitation to collaborate with fellow government agencies or health care systems, says Chris Williams, an operations manager for the county emergency management office.

Why it matters: Volunteers were especially busy during the pandemic, helping out at vaccine clinics and even assembling a shipment of new ventilators.

  • When OhioHealth faced staffing shortages, it brought in MRC to work at a number of urgent care clinics.
  • In total, volunteers contributed more than 14,000 total hours of help in 2021 ā€” by far the most in any year of the group's history.

What's happening: MRC is now turning its attention back to working with hospitals on emergency preparedness and planning public training sessions on the proper use of tourniquets.

Get involved: The group invites new recruits to sign up and undergo volunteer training.

  • All are welcome to register, though MRC is especially seeking therapists, psychologists and others who can offer trauma care in the aftermath of a public crisis.
  • Health industry professionals like veterinarians and dentists proved invaluable during the pandemic response and would be of help in preparing for future emergencies.
  • "We need all hands on deck," Williams says. "If you know how to use a syringe, we need your help."

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