MRC Volunteers Support Local Health Departments During Natural Disasters and Emergencies Says the National Association of County and City Health Officials
WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES, December 6, 2017 — Recent natural disasters and the emergence of infectious diseases demand further focus on prevention and response activities to ensure prepared and resilient communities. With funding and workforce challenges, local health departments (LHDs) are increasingly relying on the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers to bolster their capacity to respond to large-scale emergencies and support public health. The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), representing nearly 3,000 local governmental health departments, recently released the 2017 Network Profile of the Medical Reserve Corps report, which examines how MRC units are impacting and adding value to local health departments and their communities.
“MRC units have and continue to provide their local communities with support in preventative care, preparation for emergencies, provision of opioid overdose reversal trainings, and many other community-specific activities to build community resiliency and to support recovery from adverse events,” said NACCHO Interim Executive Director and Chief of Government Affairs Laura Hanen, MPP.
The devastation caused by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks moved Americans to volunteer in masses and give their time, expertise, and heart in support of their country. This willingness to respond in the face of disasters shaped the MRC, a national network of almost 200,000 local volunteers dedicated to the safety, preparedness, and health of their communities.
Now, 15 years after it was formed, the MRC network continues to provide vital, cost-saving support to LHDs. For example, MRC units demonstrate their active support of local and regional emergencies, with 25% of units reporting that they participated in an emergency response during the past year, a 6% increase from 2015. Almost all (92%) MRC units reported training with another organization in the past year. Data from the report show training partners include LHDs (71%), emergency management agencies (54%), and fire/emergency medical services (40%).
The 2017 Network Profile and its companion pieces underscore how critical an MRC unit can be for LHDs. With 68% of MRC units housed in LHDs, MRC volunteers are a vital resource for LHD staff to fulfill their mission in creating healthier, more resilient communities. Over half (56%) of the LHDs surveyed for the Network Profile indicate that the public health emergency response activities they provide will be reduced without MRC assistance.
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) represents the nation's nearly 3,000 local health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities. NACCHO has worked with the MRC Program Office within the Office Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, a federal government agency that oversees the national MRC network, through a cooperative agreement since 2006. For more information about NACCHO, please visit www.naccho.org.
National Association of County and City Health Officials
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