The Medical Reserve Corps

 In Counseling & Support

The Best Kept Secret in Emergency Response!


Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) unit is a community-based, organized and trained group of members (medical and non-medical) intended to supplement existing community medical and emergency response systems. In the same way that the Red Cross provides emergency shelter after a disaster, the MRC can assist with valuable medical personnel when local services are overwhelmed. But few have heard of us – have you?

The Mission of the MRC of North Idaho is to RECRUIT and TRAIN community members from all walks of life, including healthcare professionals, in order to RESPOND efficiently and be prepared to function in a public health or other emergency, and SUSTAIN the interest and commitment of the membership.

9/11 Triggered Volunteerism

Shortly after the planes crashed into the World Trade Center on 9/11, New York Mayor Giuliani asked for physicians to volunteer at Ground Zero. Medical volunteers arrived at the Stuyvesant Triage Center (an evacuated grade school), to find chaos with no clear lines of authority. The medical volunteers organized themselves, took control of the situation, and began to triage victims. Two physicians coordinated the volunteer effort—they worked with the other physicians and medical personnel to treat the injuries of search and rescue workers.

Creation of the MRC

After the events of 9/11, the volunteer physicians recognized the need for an organized group of medical volunteers who would be trained and prepared to provide medical and public health support in response to emergency operations. This proposal eventually got to the Office of the President and the national Medical Reserve Corps was formed in 2002.

A second impetus to the MRC’s creation was the response to the anthrax letters sent to Congressional staff and postal workers in October and November 2001. The administration realized that, should large-scale mass dispensing/mass vaccination be required, the United States would need a group of organized volunteers ready to respond.

Today’s MRC

There are over 1,000 Medical Reserve Corps units in all 50 States and some US Territories, with over 200,000 volunteers. MRC units now spend time preparing for man-made and natural disasters, including severe weather, hurricanes, tornadoes, anthrax attacks, plane crashes, and pandemics. MRC units engage in large-scale exercises with community partners, such as local American Red Cross and local fire, emergency medical services, and law enforcement personnel, to ensure effective collaboration during a real-life scenario.

The MRC of North Idaho was formed in 2003 and has 750 members to serve the five northern counties in the Idaho Panhandle. MRC volunteers contribute to public health activities such as providing flu vaccinations, promoting personal preparedness, staffing free community clinics, and offering blood pressure screenings at community events. The MRC of North Idaho sent 17 volunteers to help after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and over 70 volunteers responded to the H1N1 pandemic by staffing the appointment lines and vaccination clinics.

The Best Part?

You don’t need a medical license to be part of the Medical Reserve Corps! While we love our medical team – nurses, doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical staff, pharmacists, dentists, EMTs, mental health professionals – they can’t do their job without help.

Volunteers from all backgrounds are accepted for service, including those who can help with registration, education, directing patients in a clinic, maintaining supplies, supervising, managing traffic at a large clinic, site security, or staffing a telephone call center. It takes 3-4 non-medical volunteers to support one medical volunteer.

Free training is offered to volunteers and there are no regular meetings to attend. Volunteers may choose to serve only in their county, or any of the five northern counties. Please consider becoming an MRC volunteer!

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