Facebook60Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Jennifer Dixon, Education and Outreach for Thurston County Public Health and Social ServicesHave you ever wondered how Thurston County would respond in a serious health emergency? Most of us have. Yet, a lot of us don’t know about the dedicated group of specialized volunteers whose mission is to provide “public health surge capacity” in the event of a public health emergency. This means, when resources are already in use, or difficult to find, a request goes out for the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) to step in and help.Photo courtesy: Thurston County Public Health and Social ServicesThe MRC is a group of trained volunteers who work to strengthen and expand the local public health systems’ response capacity. These volunteers are trained to provide vaccinations, distribute medication, administer first aid, triage and treat, as well as provide support to specific response needs (such as the measles outbreak in Clark County, Washington).Becoming part of the MRC is a great way to serve the community. Training and education are provided and volunteers have the opportunity to help when called upon in the event an emergency.Glenn Baldwin, a volunteer since 2014, shared that “the MRC has given me opportunities to work on real time health issues, like the Clark County measles outbreak, that better prepare me to assist my own community.”After 10 years of being with the MRC, Deven Zipp, agrees, “MRC has provided me a way to use my nursing skills to help my community respond to public health challenges. I also get to work with other organizations across the county to practice emergency response skills.”Though the Medical Reserve Corps is a national volunteer program, we’re lucky in Thurston County to have more than 90 active volunteers. Some of these volunteers are trained doctors, nurses, pharmacists, counselors, or share experience from other medical fields. Some are retired. Others are still working in their fields. Still more MRC volunteers offer support in non-medical efforts through education, administration, interpretation services, or emergency management experience. The group has built—and continues to build—strong partnerships with a variety of community partners, local school districts, first responders, hospitals and clinics, faith-based organizations, tribal partners and other government and non-profit organizations.A strong and vibrant Medical Reserve Corps is an important piece of our ability to prepare for health emergencies in Thurston County. If you, or someone you know, wants to learn more or get involved, email [email protected], or call 360-867-2609. You can also visit them on Facebook @ThurstonCountyMedicalReserveCorps.Whatever health-related emergencies may visit us in Thurston County in the years to come, we can all rest a little easier knowing the Medical Reserve Corps will be there to help.