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Vanderbilt Forming Medical Reserve Corps of Volunteers for Community Disaster Response

Dec. 17, 2004, 9:03 AM

The Vanderbilt School of Nursing, in conjunction with the Nashville-Davidson County Health Department, The Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management, and the Vanderbilt Department of Emergency Medicine, is building a local Medical Reserve Corps of trained health care professionals who could respond to a mass casualty or other emergency in our community.

The Medical Reserve Corps was established after the events on Sept. 11, 2001, as a way for health professionals to volunteer to be a part of a locally-based group of disaster responders.

"The Vanderbilt University School of Nursing received federal funding to begin to work on building a Medical Reserve Corps program in Middle Tennessee, in part because of the School’s creation of a National Center for Emergency Preparedness," said Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., professor and Dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, and founder and director of the International Nursing Coalition for Mass Casualty Education.

Seth Wright, M.D., associate professor of Emergency Medicine and director of the Middle Tennessee Medical Reserve Corps (MTMRC), said there is a need for a wide variety of health care providers and support personnel on a volunteer basis. "We’re looking for nurses, physicians, pharmacists, dentists, respiratory therapists, mental health specialists, Emergency Medical Technicians, and other health care and public health professionals," said Wright.

Carmen Rich, R.N., director of recruiting for the MTMRC, and a nurse in both the pediatric and adult emergency departments at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, recognizes the resource potential in Middle Tennessee.

"We are particularly interested in recruiting health care workers who may be licensed but not working full time or are retired or people who are like me and wish to learn how to become involved in building a plan to help our community in a disaster situation," said Rich.

The MTMRC will offer health care assistance in the event of an emergency situation in Nashville or surrounding communities. The team of local agencies working on the project says it is something Nashville needs.

"The Metro Public Health Department has worked closely with the MRC team on this timely and essential endeavor," said Pam Trotter, R.N., division director of the Metro Public Health Department’s Notifiable Disease Control Division. "The success of this project will ensure that our community has the manpower available to provide critical services in the event of a disaster."

Volunteers may be called upon to staff vaccination clinics, provide educational support, and assist other health care providers in Middle Tennessee if resources become overwhelmed.

The MTMRC will educate and credential volunteers to be a part of the local community response team. The required time commitment for most members will be minimal. To find out more about volunteering for the Middle Tennessee Medical Reserve Corps log on to: www.mtmrc.org.

Contact: Heather L. Hall

Phone: 615-322-3894

Email: heather.l.hall@vanderbilt.edu

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