Statewide – When the Mass Health Officers Association held its first legislative breakfast at the statehouse in Boston, UMV MRC staff was on hand to network with legislators and members of MHOA, and to assist with the statewide MRC exhibit table.
The director and coordinator participated in the quarterly MRC meeting in Westboro and bi-monthly conference calls, to keep up with our counterparts across the state.
Sharon Walker-Mastenbrook, director of public health for Burlington MA, represents MHOA from the podium in the Great Hall.
Legislators, aides, and board of health reps are briefed on preparedness.
National – The staff attended the annual MRC conference in Dallas April 4/17 to 22.
MRC staff members from New England joined Surgeon General Richard Carmona (center, back), Captain Mike Milner and Cdr. Rob Tosatto (back right, in uniform) for a photo.
Steve Ridini and Susan Downey, from The Medical Foundation in Boston, facilitated the Summit with Jennifer Frenette, MRC Coordinator for Region I.
Regional – The Medical Foundation and the regional coordinator facilitated a Region I Summit in Framingham, MA, on June 20 and 21. The event was attended by MRC reps from across New England, including the UMV MRC.
Local – The unit boosted its ranks to 350. The UMV MRC Advisory Council met twice, for a debriefing of the flood response and to discuss upcoming events. Dozens of members attended another offering of the Simple Triage And Rapid Treatment (START) class.
There was a strong showing of the MRC at the Tyngsboro Health Fair at the end of April.
Elizabeth Mattson arrives to serve at the health fair.
Himanshu Jayswal, Diane Cerretti, Kathryn York, and Elizabeth Mattson staff the display table.
Diane Cerretti takes a blood pressure for a visitor to the MRC booth.
Jackie Eschle records vital signs in the Lion's vision screening van.
Members also participated in a Mass Casualty Incident drill at Saints Memorial Medical Center in Lowell in May.
Ben Podsiadlo, paramedic and director of Greater Lowell EMS, describes the symptoms of cyanide exposure to volunteers from the UMV MRC.
Members learn about decon procedures from a Saints RN dressed in hazmat gear.
Sue Juhola, clad in Level C protection, awaits victims at the decon tent.
The staff gave presentations to the Police Amateur Radio Team in Westford, and to the Dracut Rotary. The Rotary invitation resulted from an Internet posting on the Dracut Forum, which drew a reporter from a local paper to cover the Dracut information session 3/9, piquing the interest of the Rotary.
To close out the season, almost a dozen members supported the unit's first corporate health fair. The event took place at G.E. Sensing in Billerica . This was the first time many of the attendees had heard of the Medical Reserve Corps. Members offered a public service by sharing information about family preparedness, as well as an overview of the MRC, and also took blood pressures. They had fun getting better acquainted with their fellow members and visiting the other exhibits. Heidi Mover, RN, enjoyed the event so much that she exclaimed as she was leaving, “It feels like I got way more out of this than I put into it!”
A colorful poster invites about 600 G.E. employees to attend the fair.
Members prepare to take blood pressures, distribute literature, and answer questions about public health and safety at the UMV MRC display.
Dr. Paul Royte (center) and Sharlene Locker greet a visitor at the registration desk.
The region can be proud of the MRC's stunning response to the flooding disaster that ravaged Greater Lowell this spring.
Registered nurses Dorothy Mullen and Nancy Liva check the headlines while volunteering at a Red Cross emergency shelter in Lowell.
The national network of MRC units was especially designed to provide care in each unit's local area within the first 72 hours of an emergency. From the moment they were asked to help, members of the UMV MRC rose to the occasion with flying colors, providing volunteers wherever their service was requested.
By May 15, after several days of torrential rain, schools were closed in four of the seven UMV communities. Hundreds of area residents were evacuated from their homes. The governor declared a state of emergency, calling in the National Guard and many other resources.
As the UMV MRC staff was leaving to assess the damage in downtown Lowell, they sent a quick e-mail asking members to reply with their availability. That one message drew 53 responses almost immediately. (Additional members could be reached as needed through a full-scale call-out.)
Surge capacity was required because so many people were suddenly displaced – from entire neighborhoods, apartment complexes, and even elder care facilities. UMV MRC members provided relief to flood victims in the first crucial days of this devastating local emergency.
Continuous medical care at the Council on Aging emergency shelter
A range of support activities in the Red Cross shelter at Lowell High School
UMV MRC Coordinator Nancy Burns observes the transfer of nursing care from Roland Gauthier to Pauline Ray at the COA shelter, during the change of shifts at 1 a.m.
The unit filled every position that was requested.
Dr. David Eberiel, Bob Veth, and Mary Eberiel provide administrative support at the high school shelter.
Hospital backfill for elderly patients who were transferred to Lowell General
Barbara Moloney takes nurse's notes at the COA shelter.
Rita Bixby, RN, was among the team of volunteers who tended nursing home patients who had been evacuated to the hospital. “We felt like a million bucks because we had done something good,” Bixby recalls, “and what we were able to accomplish for those people.”
Cots await local residents at the shelter who are displaced from their homes and in need of a place to stay.
Winter 2006 Recap
This season was one of our most productive ever! By now we have 344 members on our roster, with more on the horizon as we continue to grow and strengthen the unit. Here's a recap of the highlights from January through March.
Recruitment – The first information session of the winter boosted membership over the 300 mark, with the enrollment of Mary Williams, RN.
Sandy Collins, UMV MRC Director, and Tom Carbone, representing the Tewksbury Board of Health, congratulate Mary Williams (center) for becoming the 300th member of the local MRC.
New members at the Tewksbury session in January remained for a photo.
The three remaining sessions drew recruits to Lowell General Hospital , the Tyngsboro Town Hall , and the Dracut Fire Department. Each session presented an “Introduction to the MRC,” which provided EMTs with two credit hours. Similar orientations will be offered throughout the year.
Lt. Tom Greenhalgh (left) and Dr. Hayden Duggan (right), in front of a diagram on the limbic system, during the class they taught on stress and crisis management.
Training – Members showed up in force at educational events that the unit offered or co-sponsored. Many evaluation forms at the end of these sessions provided rave reviews. In addition to a seminar in January on Avian Flu, members attended classes on Smallpox (Chelmsford), Critical Incident Stress (Billerica), JUMPSTART pediatric triage (Westford), and Personal Protective Equipment (Lowell).
Instructor Marianne Bitner (seated) provides more detail about pediatric triage to nurses Louise Moncreaff and Linda Gilmore.
Kathleen Lallemand, RN, speaks with visitor Carol Hurst about family preparedness.
Community Service – Many interested visitors stopped by the MRC display table at a health fair for municipal employees in Westford. In addition to St Patrick's Day greetings, visitors received information on preparedness. A surprising number came over specifically to join the unit!
Communications – Promotions to support MRC events included two radio broadcasts and repeated Public Service Announcements in our largest UMV community (WUML and WCAP in Lowell ). Bulletins ran on numerous local cable TV stations and Internet sites, along with posters placed at area facilities, and several newspaper placements.
Not only did these promotions encourage recruitment, new members shared in their application forms that these measures raised awareness of the MRC system across the region.
State and National Activities – Several members are included in the MA statewide MRC video, which is in the final stages of production. The UMV MRC staff also provided suggestions for the new statewide MRC website, which lists all the current MA units.
Director Sandy Collins is active in MSAR, the MA version of the national ESAR-VHP (Emergency System of Advanced Registration for Volunteer Health Professionals). Coordinator Nancy Burns represents MRC Region I in the Mass Casualty Incident task force. The national program continues to spread like wildfire, so to date we are proud to represent one of 24 MRC units in MA and 39 in New England, with 410 MRCs across the U.S.
Spotlight Coverage – One of our first members, who joined the unit at its initial focus group on June 2004, is the volunteer recognized in the March Spotlight by the National MRC Program Office. Pauline Ray, RN, has participated in numerous flu clinics, drills, trainings, and public service events. In October 2005, she served as a camp nurse at Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod , for Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Congratulations, Pauline!
Pauline Ray provided tetanus boosters for the UMV MRC at a health fair in July 2005.
Opportunities – Over two dozen members are signed up for the next course offering of START – Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment – on Saturday, April 22, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Chelmsford police station. Spaces are still available, so it's not too late to register. This version of START offers 4 OEMS credits for EMTs and 3.5 CEUs for nurses. Interested members are also welcome to help with this year's Tyngsboro Health Fair the following Saturday morning, April 29.
Keep in touch for new member orientations and other activities throughout the year!
Members Attend Avian Flu Update
When Dr. Alfred DeMaria gave a presentation to the area communities on January 17, in a forum sponsored by the Westford Board of Health on Avian Flu and Pandemics, 30 members of the UMV MRC were among the nearly 100 in the audience at the Westford Academy Auditorium. DeMaria is the Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Bureau of Communicable Disease Control for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and is nationally recognized for his expertise in infectious diseases.
Sandy Collins, MRC Director and Director of Health Care Services, Westford BOH; and Dr. Alfred DeMaria of MDPH, in front of the UMV MRC booth display after the presentation.
“Classic influenza comes with symptoms right away, with a sudden fever, and the person feels awful,” said DeMaria. He discussed the impact of flu pandemics since the dreaded Spanish Flu of 1918, which he cited as “the only year in the 20th century when life expectancy went down,” due to the widespread fatalities. He attested to the cumulative value of getting flu shots, the effectiveness of the flu mist, and protective measures that include hand washing and the use of disinfectants.
Responders and care providers would be vulnerable in the next pandemic, predicted DeMaria. He quoted projections of up to 35 percent absenteeism in the workplace due to illness, accompanied by round-the-clock (“24/7”) media reporting. He advised against developing personal stockpiles of antivirals, especially to avoid resistance of the virus to Tamiflu and other medications.
Rather, DeMaria noted that planning for the next pandemic must include many elements. “Regional plans must prepare for a surge of 500 acutely ill patients,” he explained, adding that hospital staffing could be reduced due to illness in their own households. “That's an example of the value of an MRC: having names on a list to provide surge capacity,” urged DeMaria. “That's REAL.”
Collins utilized the program as an opportunity to invite other audience members to join the UMV MRC. “After hearing this presentation,” said Collins, “people understand what a needed and valuable resource the MRC is to a community.” The open forum also served as a kick-off event for winter 2006 training classes for the unit. Attendance resulted in two CEUs for nurses and two OEMS credits for EMTs at all levels. The forum was also featured in the next day's issue of The Lowell Sun.
For the most current information about our unit, see the "Latest News" stories on the home page
Marianne Bitner, director of clinical services for Trinity
Ambulance, displays triage tags to students in the popular
S.T.A.R.T. (Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment) class.
Over 100 members were engaged in UMV MRC activities between mid-August and early November. Our volunteers attended training classes, helped in deployments, participated in a regional disaster drill, and supported seven flu clinics and a health fair.
The unit offered two series of Red Cross disaster classes through October and early November.
Thanks to the latest graduates, our unit now has 85 members who are certified to staff an emergency shelter anywhere in the U.S. Three of those members are officially recognized as disaster instructors, including two who were signed off through teaching the fall classes. If floods, snowstorms, and other disasters displace local residents from their homes (which happened this fall in nearby Keene, NH and Taunton, MA), these members are especially trained to help.
Your staff members have continued to participate in MRC initiatives on the state and national level. The director and coordinator gave several presentations to other regions in Massachusetts upon request, because their communities are eager to launch MRC units. We’ve participated in statewide meetings and conference calls, sharing ideas on a new video and web site for Massachusetts units. We are also involved in national task forces; one for a volunteer registration system, and another for response to mass casualty incidents.
Linda McCarthy and Dinah Sue Deck are the two RNs who earned certification this fall as Red Cross instructors for the MRC. They are now qualified to teach all four modules of the disaster series.
Paul Royte and Bob Veth help with clinic registration.
Nurses Donna Nadolny and Beth Corrow share a light moment while preparing for a flu clinic.
Your Advisory Council has been helping to shape our Standard Operating Procedures, member communications, and other aspects that play a key role in the success of our unit. Look for our New Year’s newsletter in January 2006!
We are proud of our current members (265 and counting!), as we continue to welcome new ones, and wish each of you a delightful year ahead.
Dr. David Eberiel, EMT, takes a visitor's blood pressure at the Chelmsford health fair.
Linda Gilmore, RN, prepares to administer tetanus boosters.
On a frosty day in mid-December, several members attended the UMV MRC’s final training session of 2005. The emergency management department for the City of Lowell sponsored a classroom offering of NIMS: the National Incident Management System. The class took place in the venerable Pollard Memorial Library in downtown Lowell.
Members attended NIMS-700 training, taught by Emergency Management instructors for the City of Lowell. From left to right: Chief William Desrosiers, Lowell Fire Dept.; Mark Boldrighini, Lowell's deputy director of emergency management; UMV MRC members Dr. Paul Royte, Bill Cahill, Dottie Mullen, Esther-Diana Menke, and Nancy Liva.
The catalyst for NIMS training was Homeland Security Presidential Directive #5, which specified the development of a national incident management system and a new national response plan.
The main purpose of NIMS is to ensure a consistent nationwide approach for agencies that work together in responding to a variety of incidents. “This can mean any disaster," emphasized instructor Mark Boldrighini, “such as a chemical truck falling into a river. Think ‘large scale’ when you consider NIMS.”
Boldrighini stressed the importance of responders across communities being able to work together. “A plume of hazardous materials doesn’t know to stop at the town line,” he joked. Fire Chief Richard Desrosiers added, “Keep in mind that all incidents start and end at the local level.” Federal response plans require local agencies to prepare for self-sufficiency throughout the first 72 hours of an incident.
Many agencies that provide staff or volunteer first responders are mandated to complete NIMS-700 training, to qualify for federal reimbursements. Response plans have expanded in scope to accommodate public health, school nurses, department of public works employees, and other groups that were not traditionally included with first responders such as police, fire, and emergency medical services.
The instructors noted that disaster response benefits from mutual aid arrangements which are written down in advance and nurtured – supplemented with joint training and drills – to encourage positive interaction across agencies. Other topics included coordination of resources, ensuring rescuer safety, the value of standard terminology, and non-emergency uses of NIMS.