Who can join a Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) unit?
Community members, with or without medical training, who are willing to support public health on a daily basis or during public health emergencies are encouraged to join. This includes professionals from all of the health occupations. Most MRC units have non-medical volunteers who provide education, logistics, communication, coordination and other support. Many positions in the MRC do not require medical skills.
Can I apply if I’m not currently licensed or practicing in a medical field?
Yes. MRC units need both medical and non-medical volunteers. Some of the positions for volunteers will require licensure, to protect the volunteer as well as to ensure the best care for those in need of medical attention. In the event of a disaster, those with prior medical expertise without an active license could serve as medical interviewers, clinic coordinators as well as other positions. There will also be many needs for unlicensed health professionals and for those without medical training. Local MRC units provide training in emergency response, public health and other related fields to all volunteers.
How do I join my local MRC unit?
You can register on-line at the Virginia Volunteer Health System. Once you apply, your application is immediately forwarded to the MRC coordinator in your area. Applications that are incomplete after 2 weeks will be deleted.
Am I obligated for volunteering for the MRC if I work in a hospital or health care facility, serve in the military, have other work requirements or family commitments that do not allow me to volunteer at the time of an emergency?
You are a volunteer, so there are no availability requirements. Certainly, we understand you may have work and family commitments that prohibit you from volunteering at any given time. Many MRC units also participate in numerous non- emergency public health activities that you can be involved in if you have other emergency response commitments. If you determine that you are unavailable for an extended period time due to illness or relocation, please request your MRC to change your status to Temporarily Unavailable so you do not receive notifications.
What liability protection is available for volunteers?
In 2005, the Virginia General Assembly passed Housebill 2520 to ensure additional protection for MRC volunteers. MRC Volunteers who are called to a health event by a Virginia Medical Reserve Corps and volunteer under the direction of the Virginia Department of Health receive the same coverage under the state as VDH employees, when they are involved in state-sanctioned and directed programs. Similar protections apply to volunteers in Medical Reserve Corps directly tied to city or county government organizations when directed by representatives of those government agencies. You should not be placed in a position by any MRC to perform any task or skill that is outside your existing scope of practice or experience. Volunteers should protect themselves by only working within their scope of practice or skill at all times. There are also other liability protections that may apply to MRC volunteers when performing their duties.
Will I be asked to volunteer for an emergency event outside of Virginia?
MRC volunteers are considered local assets. However, the National Medical Reserve Corps and disaster response agencies in other states have contacted us during emergencies requesting volunteer support, such as the Gulf Coast Response to Hurricane Katrina. All volunteer requests and information will be provided by your local, regional or state MRC coordinator. Volunteers wishing to deploy both within the state and nationally are required to complete National Incident Management System and Incident Command System and Incident Command training. If you are willing to volunteer outside your local area, please indicate that when completing your volunteer application.
How will I be contacted in an emergency?
You will be notified by your local unit coordinator via the information that you provide when applying to the join your MRC unit. You may receive the alert notification via email, text and phone. Therefore, it is very important that you keep your contact information current. You can access your profile at any time to update your information or contact your MRC coordinator.
Who will have access to my personal information?
Representatives of the local and state health department will have access to this information for the purpose of your volunteer role. If deploying with an organization other than VDH, only the required information will be provided to the requesting organization.