In addition to a non-competitive
grant for $3500 that our unit received in 2013, we were also awarded
a 'competitive' grant through a highly selective process.
This new $7000 funding from NACCHO (National Association of County
and City Health Officials) allows us to train deployment teams
for sheltering, and to educate area residents on preparedness.
Providing care at emergency shelters is one of the most important
functions that an MRC unit can offer at the local level.
the Director and Coordinator of the UMV MRC were among the
unit leaders to attend a pilot 'Train the Trainer' course
on sheltering for MRC volunteers across the state. Collins
was co-chair of
the steering committee that developed this training, which
was offered through MDPH -- the MA Department of Public
MRC staff delivered our unit's first 'Introduction to Sheltering
for MRC Volunteers' class in October 2013. The material
was customized for our region, drawing on examples from
actual shelters. This course is the foundation for all members
who wish to serve at a shelter.
The need for emergency
shelters has occurred frequently in recent years. Our volunteers
have already responded many times for shelter service -- both
within our region and across the Commonwealth. These MRC members
can become even more effective if they report to shelters with
others who share specialized training. Thus we
proposed the formation of 'strike teams' to offer three types
of skills in disaster response:
registration, shelter operations, record-keeping, tear-down,
and other non-medical services.
patient care. While area residents who are seriously ill
would be at a hospital or urgent care facility, those whose
condition is vulnerable yet stable could be admitted to
a public shelter. Residents who are not accompanied by an
aide or family member may require someone else to monitor
health support. Every disaster means some level of upheaval
and stress, which can exacerbate existing behavioral health
conditions. Training in Psychological First Aid and counseling
skills can be crucial in shelters.
Through the grant,
our unit has agreed to train 100 interested UMV MRC members
to serve on these teams. MRC staff incorporated feedback from
our kickoff course last fall, and provided two more sessions,
February 26 and March 8.
Although the three course offerings are over, we may conduct
another session if there is sufficient interest.
This course provided
the foundation for training all levels
of MRC volunteers on effective service in emergency
shelters, within our region and across MA. For medical volunteers,
completion also resulted in four free hours of continuing
in MA happen unexpectedly, at any time of year. Winter
storms often cause power outages,
leaving vulnerable residents at risk of hypothermia.
Tornadoes once ripped through the state in June.
In addition to
completing the 'Intro to Sheltering' class, team members will
receive additional training that is specific to their role.
Some of this material can be learned through handouts, online
courses, and in a self-paced format. Details will be provided
to strike team participants.
patients may need nothing more than an occasional conversation
to see how they're doing. They may also need assistance
with basic care.
volunteers who are skilled in behavioral health, crisis
intervention, or medical care may be assigned a quiet
space in which to counsel patients.
are indispensible for providing shelter service! Their functions
can any number of helpful activities that these members are
willing to provide.
The final components
are a drill on May 10
in which to put these skills together, and public education
on how to prepare in case they may need to evacuate to an
emergency shelter in a disaster. The drill is scheduled for
Blanchard Middle School in Westford, which has served often
as the site of the town's emergency shelters in previous disasters.
cafeteria at Blanchard School offered warm meals and snacks,
a TV with which to monitor storm coverage, a 'warming center'
by day in which to charge electronic devices, and an 'overnight
shelter' on which healthy family members could sleep on
cots. Registration took place at the entrance to the cafeteria.
All levels of members were needed for set-up, paperwork,
and oversight of general shelter operations.
gymnasium provided extra services for those with medical
special needs, such as limited mobility. Physicians, nurses,
and EMTs helped to provide non-urgent care. Set off from
the general area by a long corridor, this section was quieter
and the lights were dimmed, which was more calming for vulnerable
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