Emergency response organizations
- including the Medical Reserve Corps - cannot afford to operate
in a vacuum. Rather, a hallmark of effective disaster response is
the careful interaction between responding agencies. This is especially
true when emergency plans are being formed throughout a region of
well over a quarter million residents.
The grant that proposed
the formation of an MRC in the Upper Merrimack Valley was accompanied
by letters of endorsement from numerous major entities and key parties:
- Board of Health
directors from the seven UMC communities
- Director and
deputy director for Lowell Emergency Management
- Emergency management
co-directors for the Town of Westford
- Town of Tyngsborough
director of emergency management
- Director of
emergency services for American Red Cross of Merrimack Valley
- State Representative
- State Senator
- Senator Edward
The Upper Merrimack Valley
MRC has members on its Advisory Council to represent each of the
seven UMC communities. The unit's Coordinator has given presentations
to all seven Boards of Health. Plans are underway to strengthen
alliances with municipal and community service agencies as appropriate.
There is a special relationship between the Medical Reserve Corps
system and the American Red Cross. The following are answers to
some frequently asked questions about the MRC, ARC, and various
What is the relationship
between the MRC and the American Red Cross?
At a national level, the two organizations are separate yet cooperative.
Both the MRC and ARC include disaster response among their top priorities.
There is some overlap in the ways in which the MRC and ARC are deployed,
yet these two entities have different missions. (See www.RedCross.org
to learn more about the Red Cross, and www.MedicalReserveCorps.gov
for details on the MRC.)
primary focus of the MRC is on emergency preparedness - through
responses to public health emergencies and mass casualty incidents
- as well as community service programs. Each MRC unit adapts to
the needs of its local communities. The MRC system is relatively
new, with the first grants issued in July 2002.
By contrast, ARC activities
include blood drives, swimming lessons, and educational programs,
as well as disaster response. Their initiatives throughout the country
adhere to national ARC standards. This organization has been in
place for over a century.
MRC and ARC groups interact more closely than others. An MRC may
not have an ARC chapter operating anywhere within its territory.
By contrast, some units nearly coexist with their ARC counterparts,
working together in many capacities.
At the local level,
many MRC units enjoy a warm and mutually beneficial relationship
with the nearest chapter of the ARC. For example, the ARC can provide
disaster classes to MRC members, even training members to become
Red Cross instructors. If the ARC needs extra volunteers in setting
up and running an emergency shelter, they may establish agreements
with the director of their local MRC for additional support.
While ARC classes that
are offered across the country adhere national Red Cross standards
- thus courses such as the Introduction to Disaster are taught
the same way in any state - they are not tailored to address the
specific needs of an individual MRC. Thus each MRC needs to consider
providing additional training for its members. Similarly, members
of the MRC would only be deployed - when requested by the ARC or
any other group in need of medical volunteers - at the direction
of the MRC.
If I take Red Cross
classes, does that make me a member of the Red Cross?
NO! The Red Cross is an invaluable resource for disaster training,
because the ARC has had worldwide experience in a full range of
disaster responses for over a century. They have developed numerous
courses that can be applicable for many organizations - from non-medical
neighborhood groups to military entities - which are standard across
the U.S. However, completion of these courses does not mean that
attendees must join the ARC. Furthermore, the staff of the MRC is
the only group with the authority to contact or dispatch its own
If I take Red Cross
classes, can I join the Red Cross?
This is America, so anyone can join any organization, according
to their interest!
Note that membership
in multiple organizations usually requires agreements up front on
which group would be entitled to "first call" of an individual
It is up to each MRC
volunteer whether to join the MRC only, or to hold additional memberships
in organizations such as the Red Cross, CERT, VIPS, church auxiliaries,
and other groups - many of which may interact.
Members who join multiple
groups should clarify ahead of time where they would be deployed
in case of disaster. (For example, hospital employees may have to
honor a "first-call" to the hospital.) MRC members would
be called for deployment through the MRC, unless other arrangements
have been made.
What is the relationship
between the MRC, CERT, VIPS, and Citizen Corps?
is the umbrella under which several volunteer groups are organized.
CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams), VIPS (Volunteers in Police
Service), an expanded Neighborhood Watch, and the new Fire Services
are sister organizations to the MRC, each with its own focus.