Medical Reserve Corps Martha's Vineyard

Overview of the MRC

Why was the MRC created?

The MRC program was created after President Bush’s 2002 State of the Union Address, in which he asked all Americans to volunteer in support of their country. The MRC is comprised of organized medical and public health professionals who serve as volunteers to respond to natural disasters and emergencies. These volunteers assist communities nationwide during emergencies and for ongoing efforts in public health.

The need for trained supplemental medical and public health personnel to assist with emergency operations was highlighted after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Many medical and public health professionals sought to support emergency relief efforts, but there was no organized approach to channel their efforts. 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.

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What does the name Medical Reserve Corps mean to our community?

Each community is different, and these differences may require alternative approaches to natural disasters and emergencies. The terms “medical” and “reserve” indicate that trained personnel are available to respond to emergencies requiring support to the community’s health and medical resources. “Corps” refers to an organized body of individuals with a similar function, in keeping with the example of Citizen Corps and the USA Freedom Corps. Despite differences among communities, all communities can benefit from the MRC and can understand the MRC similarly. The “medical” in Medical Reserve Corps does not limit MRC units to medical professionals. Individuals without medical training can fill essential supporting roles.

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What is the difference between the MRC regions, states, and units?

The United States is divided into 10 MRC regions, which contain any number of local MRC units. Personnel at the state level coordinate with the 10 MRC Regional Coordinators and those at the local level. MRC units represent those at the local level, as they are responsible for implementing volunteer capabilities for emergency medical response and public health initiatives to match specific community needs.

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How is the direction of the MRC established?

The direction of the MRC program exists at the national, state, and local levels. Each level has key personnel responsible for overseeing activities at their respective level.

At the local level, each MRC unit is led by an MRC Unit Coordinator, who matches community needs—for emergency medical response and public health initiatives—with volunteer capabilities. Local coordinators are also responsible for building partnerships, ensuring the sustainability of the local unit, and managing the volunteer resources.

The MRC Program Office oversees activities of the 10 MRC Regional Coordinators (see What is the role of the MRC Regional Coordinators?), who collaborate with national-, state-, and local-level emergency preparedness and response and medical and healthcare personnel.

At the national level, the MRC program is run by the MRC Program Office, which is headquartered in the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General. It functions as a clearinghouse for information and best practices to help communities establish, implement, and maintain MRC units nationwide. The MRC program Office sponsors an annual leadership conference; hosts a Web site; and coordinates with local, state, regional, and national organizations and agencies to help communities achieve their local visions for public health and emergency preparedness.

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Who is the MRC affiliated with?

Sponsored by the Office of the Surgeon General, the MRC coordinates its efforts with several groups and has multiple affiliates. The MRC is a specialized component of Citizen Corps, a national network of volunteers dedicated to ensuring hometown security. Citizen Corps, along with AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and the Peace Corps are part of the President's USA Freedom Corps, which promotes volunteerism and service throughout the nation.

When possible, MRC units collaborate with their local Citizen Corps Council to better protect, prepare, and serve their communities. Other components of Citizen Corps include the programs Neighborhood Watch, Volunteers in Police Service, and Community Emergency Response Team.

At the national level, the MRC program Office functions as a clearinghouse for community information and "best practices." The Office offers technical assistance and educational resources, as well as partners with the National Program Office of Citizen Corps and the USA Freedom Corps to build relationships and gain resources for the MRC program as a whole.

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