HUNTERDON COUNTY MRC
About the Medical Reserve Corps What is ESAR-VHP? Why We Need You Types of Volunteers Needed Benefits of Volunteering How to Join Media Releases MRC News & Photo Library Member Resources CONTACT US
HUNTERDON COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
DIVISION OF HEALTH SERVICES
MEDICAL RESERVE CORPS
Route 12 County Complex
314 State Route 12, Building #1
PO Box 2900
Flemington, NJ 08822-2900
George Wagner, Director
Karen B. DeMarco, County Health Officer
Tadhgh Rainey, Division Manager
Tom Kachnowski, MRC Coordinator
MRC NEWS & PHOTO LIBRARY
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EXERCISE: FIRST 12 HOURS OF A BIOTERRORISM RESPONSE
If County residents were ever affected by an act of bioterrorism, how would the Health Division respond? “Operation Distribution,” in June 2015, was an all-day exercise to train Health Division staff and MRC volunteers for the various activities that would be undertaken to alert and get life-saving medications to County residents.
MRC MEMBER RECOGNITION EVENING
Our MRC volunteers were invited to an evening of fellowship and recognition in May of 2015.
FIRST RESPONDER / FIXED FACILITY EXERCISE
We train for events, such as wide-scale medical emergencies, which we hope will not occur but for which we need to be prepared. Training exercises, like the one in September 2014, provide opportunities to rehearse skills, to learn, and to test new approaches.
MEDICAL NEEDS SHELTER EXERCISE
The Hurricane Sandy shelter experience spawned ideas to improve the way a medical needs shelter would be run if ever needed again. One September evening in 2013, an exercise was run to test these ideas.
OCTOBER - NOVEMBER 2012
HURRICANE SANDY SHELTER
In late October 2012, Hurricane Sandy blew in, felling many trees and causing wide-spread power outages in the County. Seriously affected residents could find refuge in an evacuation shelter set up by the County.
THE MEDICAL RESERVE CORPS IS TEN YEARS OLD!
The Medical Reserve Corps got its start in 2002 with a few units in a pilot program. Favorable results led to expansion and growth. Ten years later there are now, nationwide, over 200,000 MRC volunteers and nearly 1,000 MRC units.
Hunterdon County’s MRC unit was established in September of 2004. Our current membership is 130 volunteers.
BEHIND THE SCENES
When the decision is made to establish a medical support center in a shelter, it's a "many hands on deck" moment: Challenging circumstances. Moving huge amounts of supplies on short order. Coordination. Teamwork. MRC members provide vital aid to the public health prepared-ness nurse in inventorying and organizing medical equipment and materials (such as cots, privacy screens, wheelchairs, portable storage cabinets). Essential shelter materials and goods are strategically arranged and stored in a Health Department trailer to enable quick transport to shelter sites.
OCTOBER -NOVEMBER 2011
EARLY SNOW STORM SHELTER
Emergency notification system message sent October 31, 2011
"This is a message from the Hunterdon County Department of Health. This is a message from the Hunterdon County Department of Health. Due to continuing power outages, M R C volunteers are needed to provide functional needs support services at the county shelter. If you are available call Tom Kachnowski at 908-806-4968. To volunteer call 908-806-4968. Please follow instructions to confirm that you have received this message."
When the severe "Halloween Snowstorm" of 2011 struck, extended power outages shut down many areas of the County. This emergency prompted the opening of a regional evacuation shelter at the Route 12 County Complex. Thanks to MRC volunteers working side by side with Health Department staff, the shelter operation succeeded in offering not only housing but also a medical support services area where a nurse or doctor was on-site/on-call around the clock.After the emergency, interviews were conducted with residents who needed medical support services while at the shelter. These predominantly elderly residents reported how grateful they were to receive such excellent care at a challenging time.
HURRICANE IRENE SHELTER
Late August 2011 rumbled and shook Hunterdon County as Hurricane Irene blew in with widespread flooding and power outages. To provide refuge for seriously affected residents, a regional evacuation shelter was established at JP Case Middle School in Flemington.
Co-located under one roof were sleeping and eating areas managed by the Red Cross, a medical support services area operated by the Health Department and MRC, and a pet/animal shelter serviced by the County Animal Response Team (CART).
The Medical Support Center was established in the school’s Home Economics kitchens. Each kitchen space was provided with privacy screens and a medical cot to create a patient “room.”
A shelter client said she was comforted to know that there was a nurse on site around the clock.
We can be proud of the fact that an article about the support services center was featured in a publication that reaches a national audience: the NACCHO* Preparedness Brief of November 21, 2011. Click here to see that article
[* NACCHO is the National Association of County and City Health Officials.]
GRAB & GO PRESENTATION
Ask MRC member Stephanie Trotman how prepared she is for an emergency and she’ll show you — in a flash! Well, actually in a lift — as in the time it takes to raise a 5-gallon bucket strategically packed with all the things we shouldn’t leave home without.
WHEN THE WATER RISES
Some major emergencies can literally put us out of our homes. During heavy flooding, for example, shelters are needed for those who have to evacuate for safety’s sake. The agency most frequently called on to set up and operate shelters is the Red Cross.
EVACUATION? WHAT ABOUT MY PET
If you have a pet, you already know how attached you can get to that companion. Having to leave that pet behind during an emergency evacuation is more than most people want to think about. Yet, one day it might come down to having to make that decision. Every pet owner should explore what options they might have before that day arrives.
LETTER FROM THE US SURGEON GENERAL
Combining a public health event with a preparedness exercise, the Health Department ran two widely-separated vaccination clinics on October 9. Responding to the challenge of staffing two clinics simultaneously, MRC volunteers provided 44% of the staffing for these clinics – both vaccinators and support staff - which provided vaccinations to 800 county residents.
AT-RISK POPULATION TABLETOP EXERCISE
Imagine that a hurricane caused widespread power outages and flooding in the county with the need to evacuate and shelter many residents. In such a situation, how would person with special medical needs be helped? this question was discussed energetically and at length at a Health Department-sponsored exercise that brought together 56 participants spanning multiple emergency preparedness organizations including municipal OEMs (office of emergency management) Red Cross, medical Center, Human Services, Health Department and MRC.
The discussions identified strengths and gaps and will lead to targeted training in 2011.
OCTOBER 2009 - FEBRUARY 2010
COMBATING H1N1 INFLUENZA
Nationwide, MRC volunteers played a significant role in the efforts to combat H1N1 (swine) influenza. Locally, the Hunterdon County Department of Health - and county residents - benefited from some 39 area volunteers working a wide variety of roles ranging from the H1N1 swine flu hotline to front-line vaccinators and support staff at health department-run flu clinics. Our Volunteers efforts were recognized by the Office of the Surgeon General
Our volunteer's efforts were recognized
by the Office of the Surgeon General
CERT/MRC SEARCH AND RESCUE EXERCISE
On September 26, 2009, we went out in the filed (Belle Mountain, near Lambertville, NJ) for a joint exercise with CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) and other emergency response organization. Exercise scenario: Landslide during search & rescue operation for missing hikers, several members of search party injured.
MRC participants gather for group photo prior to start.
Red: serious injuries
Yellow: moderate injuries
Green: minor injuries
OPERATION FIRST-THINGS-FIRST TWO
If there was an accidental or deliberate introduction of a life-threatening disease agent in the county, protecting first responders should be one of the first things to be done - first responders would not be able to help others if they themselves were sick. A drill was held in 2007 to practice the steps to provide medications to first responder organizations in the county. A repeat drill was held in 2009.
Health Educator Yasmin Rivera-Howard provides just-in-time training to MRC volunteers prior to start of drill.
MRC volunteers counting out simulated medications.
MRC volunteers packing simulated medications.
"Hotwash" (debriefing) after the drill ended.
DECEMBER 2008 TO JANUARY 2009
MRC HELPS HEALTH DEPARTMENT TO PREPARE
Over the two-month period from December 2008 - January 2009, MRC members supported a formidable but necessary health department preparation: to organize and pack mass clinic supplies. Like so many other events that arise, some planned and some totally unexpected, the MRC team is proving itself invaluable in helping the county get ready and stay ready for wide scale emergencies.
Public Health Preparedness Nurse, Sandra Poirier, supervised the recent project in which sets of non-perishable supplies were packed in outsized boxes for long-term storage. These critical provisions are essential for the health department to be ready for rapid set-up of five mass-vaccination clinics, a multiple-site endeavor requiring comprehensive coordination because it will serve to protect the entire county during a serious health emergency.
Pre-packing and coordinated storing of vital supplies vastly simplifies and speeds the daunting process of having to assemble and distribute the provisions under the heightening stress of an emergency. The project significantly enhances the County’s state of preparedness. From previous emergencies elsewhere in the U.S., clearly it has been learned that when such an emergency occurs, valuable time and effort can be lost in trying to locate, count, load and distribute the wide range of items necessary to open mass clinic-like response centers.
MRC Packing Team: Ginger Lambert, Sharon Bittenmaster, John Kary, and Avrum Katcher
In the Box: John Kary
Tape Up: Ruth Bredbenner and Diana Boesch
Big Boxers: John Hwang and Tom Kachnowski
Big Boxers 2: Tom Kachnowski and Tricia Daly
Sealed: 10 finished boxes in stacks
Sealing Done: Ed Dufford (County employee), Sandra Poirier and Tom Kachnowski in front of finished boxes
Thanks to the MRC, Hunterdon County again improves its state of readiness. JUNE 2008
“HEAR-TO-HELP”: PHONE BANK DRILL
Yasmin Rivera-Howard, health educator with the county health department, leads a “just-in-time” training session for Hear-to-Help operator teams.
Hunterdon County Medical Reserve Corps coordinator, Tom Kachnowski, instructs MRC members about their role as callers during the Hear-to-Help exercise.
Phone Bank Supervisor strategy discussion ensured that the management team was prepared with coordinated plans. From left to right, Bob Vaccarella, Carl Rachel, Peena Vora, Sandra Poirier, and Debra Vaccarella.
MRC members above acted as callers
during the Hear-to-Help exercise.
As the calls streamed in, MRC operators tenaciously logged each inquiry for a complete history of the exercise’s phone traffic. Completing the phone log entries one after another, MRC operators moved quickly to the next incoming call.
Hear-to-Help exercise leader, Rose Mehrlust, convenes a “hotwash” review with the overall exercise cast immediately following the action the night of the drill.