June 24, 2005

VUSN’s Medical Reserve Corps fills local need

Featured Image

VUSN Dean Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., and Bobby Frist, M.D., volunteer medical director of the Medical Reserve Corps, suit up in protective equipment during a biohazard training demonstration at VUSN with Nashville Firefighters for nursing students.
photo by Neil Brake

VUSN’s Medical Reserve Corps fills local need

The mayor of Nashville, the police chief, local Red Cross leaders, officials from the Tennessee Department of Health and the Office of Emergency Management were all on hand at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing last week to help spread the word about the joint effort to form a Middle Tennessee Medical Reserve Corps (MRC).

The MRC will establish volunteer teams of health care professionals such as physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists and veterinarians, as well as other needed roles such as interpreters, chaplains, office workers and legal advisers in the community. They will be trained to respond as a group in the event of a manmade or terrorist mass casualty event in the Middle Tennessee region.

“I want to emphasize that we have opportunities for anyone who wants to help. Tasks like guiding people and handling paperwork will be just as critical as providing medical treatment or giving vaccinations,” said Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., R.N., Nancy and Hilliard Travis professor and dean of the School of Nursing.

Newly named volunteer Medical Director Bobby Frist, M.D., said he is honored to be working with the organization. “Thanks to the dedication of an advisory board consisting of members of local hospitals, professional schools, community associations and private industry, we have been able to develop a comprehensive credentialing process and training program for volunteers.”

Once credentialed, volunteers will go through orientation addressing the various needs for disaster preparedness and response. They will be placed on a list, ready to be called to duty at a moment's notice. Frist urged his colleagues in the medical community, whether currently practicing, retired or in training, to participate in the MRC. “We need your help in making sure our region is fully prepared to handle response and recovery efforts following a disaster or major crisis.”

Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell applauded the work of the School of Nursing and the local agencies working together for the good of the city. “This is about strengthening partnerships and identifying resources in a way that we have never done before,” said Purcell. “The reality is disaster preparedness is not just a job for police officers, firefighters, paramedics or the ER. I encourage everyone to answer the call and help strengthen our community resources with this.”

The MRC is a component of Citizen Corps, a national network of volunteers dedicated to ensuring hometown security. MRC units are community-based and function as a way to locally organize and utilize volunteers who want to donate their time and expertise to prepare for and respond to emergencies, supplementing existing emergency and public health resources.

The Middle Tennessee group is currently accepting and training volunteers from all walks of life. To find out more about the program and how to volunteer log on to: www.mtmrc.org.