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Healthcare professionals volunteer to help overtaxed first responder personnel

PROVO, UTAH (July 9, 2012) -- With all the fires roaming throughout the state, Utah resources have been stretched pretty thin battling the different blazes. Fortunately, a group of volunteers stands ready to help.

The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) are made up mostly of medical professionals who volunteer time and talents to enhance response capabilities in times of disaster or other emergency events. "There are 14 units across the state of Utah," said Amy Cornell-Titcomb, Medical Reserve Coordinator for both the state of Utah and Utah County. "The Red Cross can offer basic first aid in their shelters. MRC volunteers can go beyond basic first aid."

Cornell-Titcomb said MRC volunteers provided staff in shelters in Mt. Pleasant for the Wood Hollow fire and in Lone Peak Middle School for the Rosecrest fire. Other volunteers have been on standby in case they are needed throughout the state. "We provided the most volunteers at the Timberline Middle School shelter for the Quail Fire," said Cornell-Titcomb. "Volunteers help individuals that come into shelters and can provide medical recovery aid to fire fighters as they come off the lines."

"It's been a great experience and a beneficial partnership for MRC volunteers to provide medical expertise to the Red Cross in their shelters," said Cornell-Titcomb. "We have been working with the Red Cross in coordinating the additional staffing of volunteers with a specific skill set that has been needed." She explained that MRC volunteers are background checked and many are medically licensed, allowing them to assist in ways normal volunteers can't. "We even have veterinarians that can respond to help with pet health."

Medical Reserve Corps units have been formed nationwide to help communities during emergencies and provide additional resources when normal first responders and public health resources are overwhelmed. The MRC program provides the structure necessary to deploy medical and public health personnel in response to an emergency, as it identifies specific, trained, credentialed personnel available and ready to respond to emergencies. Individuals interested in volunteering are encouraged to visit www.ucmrc.com or by calling 801-851-7085.