In 2001, the United States experienced a great tragedy on 9/11 that called attention to the country’s need to be prepared for disasters and unpredictable events. In 2002 the U.S. Surgeon General responded by mandating that each county in America recruit, train, and equip a group of local civilian volunteers, known as the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), who stand ready to respond to emergencies within their local communities.
While many counties designated medical volunteers to serve on their county’s Medical Reserve Corps there was not adequate funding to equip these volunteers. Direct Relief recognized this gap and began creating customized Med-Packs for the MRC units in California. Each pack contains supplies and equipment to meet a variety of disaster-related health needs, including infection control, diagnostics, trauma care, and personal protection tools. The packs enable Medical Reserve Corps members—trained, credentialed, medical personnel—to respond when disaster strikes.
Direct Relief and the California Emergency Medical Services Authority (Cal EMSA) are working to equip all Medical Reserve Corps members throughout California. Additionally, Direct Relief received the Outstanding Medical Reserve Corps Partner Organization Award from the national Office of the Civillian Volunteer MRC organization in 2010.
Over the past three years, generous contributions from FedEx and other donors have allowed Direct Relief to equip over 1,200 volunteers serving 15 MRC units across the state, from San Diego to Lake County. In the coming months, Direct Relief will supply county medical reservists with an additional 500 MRC packs, with a goal of expanding the program as the organization secures additional program funding.
In the 11 years since 9/11, the U.S. has created a force of over 200,000 volunteers preparing for and responding to public health emergencies including disease outbreaks, wildfires, floods, hurricanes, and terrorist attacks. Direct Relief recognizes the important preparedness role these volunteers play at both the national and local levels, and will continue to support them.