New Resources Bring Opportunity for Public Health Emergency Preparedness Volunteers

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In October of 2016 students and staff from UNE participated in a Public Health Emergency Preparedness exercise with partnering agencies ranging from state and county governments to local healthcare partners. The volunteer driven Flu Clinic and Points of Dispensing (POD) exercise was a success with over 160 vaccines administered and an After Action Report indicated an opportunity to engage local volunteers in preparedness activities in an ongoing capacity (and not rely on spontaneous and unaffiliated volunteers to support public health response in times of actual emergency).

In the months that followed the 2016 exercise a new public health resource was established in the Public Health District serving York County, Medical Reserve Corps Unit 2640 (AKA the “York MRC”). The York MRC is made up of community preparedness volunteers (from both on and off campus) interested in responding during a public health crisis. Maine MRC State Coordinator Jared McCannell remarked that “this unit was established as a direct result of the recent exercise at UNE; it was clear that an opportunity exists to engage students in this work as well as tap into the greater community for support.”

In an effort to launch this collaborative volunteer opportunity the new York MRC unit applied for—and received—a $13,000 “Challenge Award” from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) to increase awareness about Public Health Emergency Preparedness volunteer opportunities and to develop a MRC presence on the UNE campus.

The funds will have a large impact on the growth of the unit as all new members will be eligible for numerous training and exercise opportunities, receive supplies, uniforms, go-bags, first aid kits and other resources. Volunteers will also gain priceless skill building and professional networking experience. “Whether it is a student early in their pursuit of a career in healthcare or a local citizen interested serving their community during times of need, it is not just the volunteers of this new MRC unit that will reap the benefits of this award, but the greater community of York County”, says McCannell.

FMI about joining the Medical Reserve Corps in Maine please email MedicalReserveCorpsME@gmail.com.

To register as a Public Health Emergency Preparedness volunteer with the State of Maine please visit www.maineresponds.org.

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