In the event of a public health emergency, the personnel needed to respond, greatly outnumber current staff. The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), www.medicalreservecorps.org, is a national organization with a mission to have a cadre of medical and non-medical professionals that prepare for and respond to public health incidents. The MRC also provides public health outreach in disaster-free times. Vermont has seven Medical Reserve Corps Units that train volunteers and verify their credentials in preparation for responding to public health incidents. Medical Reserve Corps volunteers are able to support the response need that may exist within the Health Department, at healthcare facilities, or during other public health incidents.
While the first MRC was founded in 2002, the majority of units became active in 2012. Since then, recruitment of new members has been slow. OnCall for Vermont, www.OnCallforVT.org, is a recruitment campaign aimed at enlisting new MRC and EMS volunteers. This project began in April 2015 and aired for three months; it will air in the fall of 2015 as well. While the media component may not continue, the overall effort and web content will aim to continue to recruit volunteers to support Vermont’s public health response capacity. Additionally, Medical Reserve Corps units were provided recruitment and retention toolkits in order to support their unit growth.
Through quarterly call-down drills requesting volunteers, we have found roughly two-thirds of MRC volunteers reply to deployment requests, and of those one-third are available to respond. Based on this information, our target of 1000 volunteer MRC members would suggest that over 350 volunteers could be available during a true public health emergency.