The County’s three Medical Reserve Corp (MRC) units today gathered for a press conference to express appreciation for an unprecedented donation of 360 emergency medical kits (med-packs) from Direct Relief International, California’s largest humanitarian aid organization. The City of Long Beach Department of Health & Human Services, the Beach Cities Health District, and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Program each sponsor a Medical Reserve Corp (MRC) unit to help ensure that citizens can be cared for when a disaster strikes.
“We know the question is not if, but when in terms of disaster readiness. The need for assistance from community volunteers in emergency preparedness and response continues to grow,” said Alonzo Plough, PhD, MPH, Director, Emergency Preparedness and Response Program, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “These med-packs are designed for use by specially-trained volunteers who devote their time and expertise to preparing for and responding to emergencies. This donation by Direct Relief International and its partners will not only aid in more rapid response, but also in the long term goal of community resiliency and recovery when disaster strikes.”
The MRCs were established in response to a 2002 mandate from the Surgeon General that each state recruit, train and equip such units in order to ensure that medical volunteers would be ready and able to help in the event of a public health emergency. The med-packs consist of a rugged, specially designed backpack filled with medical tools such as diagnostic equipment, triage materials, medications and first-aid supplies, and are intended to be highly mobile and functional during an emergency. Direct Relief International designed and field-tested these custom-made med-packs specifically for the MRC units’ first responder needs, which are provided today by the generosity of FedEx and the Jean Perkins Foundation.
“We are proud to support this shining example of important volunteer service, especially in a time when public resources are limited. There are over 4,600 members of the 45 separate MRC units in California. Across America, tens of thousands more MRC members lack the appropriate medical resources necessary to mobilize in the event of an emergency,” said Thomas Tighe, President and CEO, Direct Relief International. “With the generous support of FedEx and the Jean Perkins Foundation, by the end of the year, Direct Relief will be able to provide more than 1,200 med-packs to fifteen MRC units across the state, including here in Los Angeles County.”
MRC units are community-based and function as a way to locally organize and utilize volunteers. Volunteers include medical and public health professionals such as doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), pharmacists, dentists and epidemiologists. MRC units supplement existing emergency and public health resources.
“Having a store of medical supplies is crucial to building our community’s resiliency,” said Dr. Lisa Santora, Chief Medical Officer, Beach Cities Health District. “This generous donation of disaster kits will ensure that first responders and medical professionals in our community have the resources necessary to respond.”
“Our [Long Beach] MRC members have had the opportunity to assist us on a number of different activities – from our response to Pandemic H1N1 to our preparedness exercises. They are definitely a resource to our Department and the community.” Veronica Ornelas, Public Health Emergency Management Program Planner, City of Long Beach Department of Health & Human Services.
MRC volunteers train in coursework and in field drills and exercises in areas such as primary emergency response, basic first aid, life support and CPR, identifying signs and symptoms related to hazardous materials, and some public health procedures. Many MRC volunteers also assist with activities to improve public health in their community, such as increasing health literacy and supporting prevention efforts. For more information about volunteering with an MRC unit, visit http://www.medicalreservecorps.gov.
About the Organizations:
Direct Relief International is California’s largest humanitarian aid organization, active in all 50 states and 70 countries. It works with more than 1,000 health clinics across the U.S. to assist in emergencies and an ongoing basis, providing them with free medications for people in need. The organization has been among the world’s largest medical suppliers in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, has top charity ratings, including four-star and “top-notch” rating from Charity Navigator, and a 100% fundraising efficiency rating from Forbes magazine. The Medical Reserves Corps awarded Direct Relief the national 2010 Outstanding Medical Reserve Corps Partner Organization Award and Cal EMSA adopted Direct Relief’s EMT level med-pack as the California Standard. For more information: www.directrelief.org.
Beach Cities Health District (BCHD is among the largest preventive health agencies in the country and has served the communities of Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach since 1955. As a public agency, it offers an extensive range of dynamic health and wellness programs, with innovative services and facilities to promote health and prevent diseases in every lifespan. BCHD operates AdventurePlex, a health and fitness center where kids play their way to good health, and the Center for Health & Fitness, a comprehensive medically based fitness center. Visit http://www.bchd.org/ or call (310) 374-3426 for more information.
For information on the City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, visit http://www.longbeach.gov/health or call (562) 570-4000.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises nearly 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more about Public Health and the work we do please visit http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov, visit our YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/lapublichealth, find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lapublichealth, or follow us on Twitter: LAPublicHealth.