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 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.
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.
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, 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. You may have the opportunity to join the Civilian Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps, which supports the Department of Health and Human Services or to deploy as a VA MRC volunteer in the support of a state-to-state response request. All volunteer requests and information will be provided by your local 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 applying.
How will I be contacted in an emergency?
You will be notified by your local unit coordinator or emergency planner via the information that you provide when applying to the join your MRC unit. A recorded audio message and email message will be sent to you. Therefore, it is very important that you keep your contact information current.
Who will have access to my personal information?
Your local MRC or public health district coordinator and the state volunteer coordinator will have access to this information for the purpose of your volunteer role. Your personal information will only be provided to your local MRC unit or health district. Your permission will be required if there is a need to provide your information to any other organizations.
If I have concerns once I have volunteered, whom do I contact?
Your local MRC coordinator, your local public health district or the State Volunteer Coordinator, Jennifer Freeland at Jennifer.Freeland@vdh.virginia.gov.