Martin Baxter, Riverside County medical volunteer coordinator, discussed the county’s medical volunteer program at the monthly meeting of the Mountain Emergency Services Committee. The Nov. 8 meeting at the Idyllwild Fire station was well attended and included professional responders and representatives from disaster volunteer groups from Idyllwild and Anza.
MEMSCOMM is the mountaintop’s coordinating committee that brings together volunteers and professional responders to plan for and discuss disaster response. And since the Hill is in what County Office of Emergency Services Deputy Director Peter Lent categorizes as one with multiple disaster possibilities including fire, earthquake and biological disasters, MEMSCOMM attendees and speakers review a variety of disaster related topics.
Baxter summarized county, state and federal programs to recruit and utilize medical volunteers during a disaster. He noted volunteers could potentially be used with the Riverside County Unit, Disaster Healthcare Volunteers of California, a statewide program, or even with the federal Medical Reserve Corps. He noted online courses that could help prepare volunteers for serving with any one of the three groups.
Primarily though, Baxter explained how licensed health care professionals could register as volunteers and continue to update their information and availability on the California site, www.healthcarevolunteers.ca.gov. All units are part of the president’s USA Freedom Corps, which promotes volunteerism and service nationwide.
Typically, during an emergency, medical volunteers could augment medical and support-staff shortages at medical or emergency facilities; dispense pharmaceuticals’ assist staging area staff, both medical and non-medical; and assist with immunization clinics, education, and infectious disease outbreak support.
Inactive or retired licensed health care professionals in good standing as well as students currently studying in those professions are being sought. Applicants without any medical training can also apply.
“All volunteers are welcomed as there are many support functions in medical services,” states the county site www.rivcophepr.org. “Applicants are required to be in good health, at least 18 years of age and have a valid driver’s license with access to an insured vehicle. They also agree to provide access to employment and professional credential information.”
“We can use anybody really,” Baxter said. “And you may wind up being used in areas other than your home area.”