KINGSTON, NY - Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger has announced the launch of the Ulster County Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), an all-volunteer network to bolster community preparedness and response to public health emergencies and disasters. The MRC consists of both non-medically trained and medically licensed/certified volunteers to support the County’s Departments of Health and Emergency Services in protecting health, preserving life, and administering aid and assistance during times of disaster and community need. The program is now open and accepting applicants from all backgrounds, with an emphasis on medically trained or certified members of the public. Additional information about the MRC is available on the County’s Participate Ulster site at https://participate.ulstercountyny.gov/mrc.
“The Medical Reserve Corps is an exciting new initiative that will draw on the talented pool of volunteers we have right here in Ulster County to protect public health and well-being and improve our overall resilience to public health threats and natural disasters,” said Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger. “I am thrilled that we are rolling out this program and encourage interested residents to consider joining our Medical Reserve Corps today.”
“A well-organized Medical Reserve Corps stands as a pillar of readiness, ensuring a rapid, coordinated response when crisis strikes,” said Everett Erichsen, Director of the Department of Emergency Services. “Investing in preparedness not only shields against the unexpected but also fosters a sense of security and resilience, strengthening the very fabric of society. I extend my gratitude to the County Executive for steadfastly supporting this endeavor and commend the collaborative synergy between the Department of Emergency Services and the Department of Health. This joint effort exemplifies the power of cooperation, underscoring our shared commitment to bolstering preparedness and ensuring the well-being of our community in times of need.”
“The Ulster County MRC will provide a network of trained volunteers to support our Public Health and Emergency Services workforce in responding to large-scale community health emergencies, such as we experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Carol Smith, Commissioner of Health. “This event demonstrated that we have residents who are willing to dedicate their time and talent to assist in meeting the needs of the community when faced with extraordinary circumstances. We hope that the Ulster County MRC will promote a more resilient community, as well as serve as a rewarding opportunity for our dedicated volunteers.”
The County Legislature and County Executive approved the Ulster County Medical Reserve Corps Unit in July, and in September it was certified as a registered unit in the Federal MRC program under the Office of the United States Surgeon General. MRC volunteers are trained as part of a team and work within their community’s health, preparedness, and emergency response infrastructures to help meet local medical and public safety needs. Volunteers will assist with emergency preparedness, emergency management, public health, and safety and response efforts. Examples of activities that MRC volunteers participate in and support include: emergency shelter operations and medical care, community vaccination clinics, disaster clean-up and recovery support, and first aid and medical support during large public gatherings.
The MRC is seeking a broad range of related skills and expertise in its call for volunteers, including:
Practicing, retired, or otherwise employed medical professionals, such as doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, pharmacists, nurses' assistants, and others
Public health professionals including behavioral health, environmental health, epidemiologists, and others
Non-medically trained community members who can provide administrative, management, and other essential support functions.
Prospective members must be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license or a non-driver ID to apply for membership. Upon completing the application process, members must register with the NYS Health Commerce system and ServNY, and complete the following online courses: FEMA Independent Study IS 700, IS 100a, and the NYS Health Department Psychological First Aid PFA 100. To retain membership in the unit, members must attend a minimum of four activities annually, either training or deployments. The MRC unit will conduct scheduled training exercises, typically monthly.
The Federal Medical Reserve Corps program operates under the guidance of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, a division of the U.S. Public Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services.
The nationwide program involves more than 200,000 volunteers from across approximately 800 community-based units throughout the United States and its territories. These dedicated individuals, including medical and public health professionals and community members from diverse backgrounds, willingly contribute their time and expertise to support emergency preparedness and response efforts in their communities.
The need for the MRC program was recognized following the events of September 11, 2001, when medical and public health professionals eager to assist in emergency relief operations found a lack of organized avenues for their involvement. The MRC was established to provide a structured framework for recruiting, training, and activating volunteers to address community health needs during disasters and public health crises.
At the local level, the Ulster County MRC will be led by a dedicated MRC unit coordinator responsible for matching community needs with volunteer capabilities, building vital partnerships, ensuring the sustainability of the local unit, and managing volunteer resources.
For those who are interested in joining this exciting initiative or would like to learn more about it, please contact the unit coordinator at ucmrc[at]co.ulster.ny[dot]us and request an application, or go to ServNY at www.health.ny.gov/ServNY.