Our unit kept up a
brisk pace through service across the region during the last six
months of this year. The table below summarizes our latest activities.
Click on links in the table to see the story that describes each
SANDY RESPONSE - Warnings of a weather emergency became
increasingly dire for New England by October 26, 2012. Tropical
Storm Sandy gained in intensity as it moved up the coast. The
impact further north was predicted to be of historic proportions.
the Bay State began preparing for the worst. Emergency Operation
Centers (EOCs) were activated throughout the Upper Merrimack Valley.
Emergency Management directors collaborated with municipal services
and local response partners, lining up resources and strategies
to keep their towns safe.
images reveal the enormity of the storm and the location
of its eye as Hurricane Sandy moved northward.
waves threatened coastal communities as the storm approached
landfall along the east coast.
Reverse 9-1-1 communications
were issued periodically to update area residents. The MA Dept.
of Public Health shared frequent 'Health and Medical Situation
Reports' with affiliates. MRC leaders advised their volunteers
to take specific precautions. By the 27th, Governor Patrick had
declared a state of emergency for Massachusetts. President Obama
issued a 'Pre-Landfall Emergency Declaration for Direct Federal
Assistance,' to protect those in MA from the effects of what became
local photographer showed the storm surge flowing over Sargent's
Wharf in Boston. (Photo offered via Bing.)
largest outdoor flag blew sideways against a slate gray
sky at the height of the storm.
UMV MRC members were
asked to monitor their e-mails for a call-out, which was issued
on the 28th. Their response was swift and affirmative. We received
71 replies within 5 hours, and 116 responses by the next day.
(Even UMV MRC members who were in Switzerland and Haiti replied,
sending our volunteers their best!)
Because the storm track
and severity were unpredictable, our unit remained on 'standby
status' until the storm roared past. We then sent four volunteers
to help at a warming center in Chelmsford.
MRC volunteers greeted the director and food services manager
of the Council on Aging, which had been opened as a warming
center for residents who had lost power in their homes.
golden retriever, Prince, had been trained as a service
dog. He was happy to 'paws' from his duty of reassuring
visitors for a photo.
COA offered a respite for those who needed a break from
dark households. They were offered hot meals and the option
to recharge electronic devices. This picture shows an MRC
volunteer helping two vulnerable residents back to their
Initially, our unit
was also asked to see whether members with shelter experience
would like to form teams of 10 for a response out of state. However,
that deployment was called off by the time we were ready to contact
York and New Jersey were particularly devastated by
Hurricane Sandy. Above is one of many communities that experienced
dramatic impact -- in this case,
neighborhoods ravaged along the Jersey Shore.
The warm temperatures
and transient power outages in this area meant that no UMV shelters
required MRC support. Still, our hearts go out to those in nearby
regions who suffered the full impact of the storm, with extensive
recovery efforts ahead.
MONTH - Each
year our unit acknowledges September as National Preparedness
Month, during which we undertake a wide range of activities.
We are proud of our members who provided community
service by staffing two regional health fairs, where they
set records for participation. After the first of the fairs got
underway, UMV MRC staff joined public health and emergency management
counterparts at a sheltering exercise.
were explored, including a special bus that provides multiple
cots for carrying the injured or disabled from the scene of a
mass-casualty incident to a care facility.
times of disaster, specially equipped vehicles in our region
can be dispatched to a location where multiple victims could
be transported for definitive care.
vehicles have storage units to
hold each person's belongings
and adaptive equipment, as well as oxygen and other supplies.
can accommodate not only ambulance stretchers and wheelchairs,
but also those who can ambulate using their own walkers
and canes, as well as walking with a personal care attendant.
UMV MRC members also
supported the first two (of 14) fall flu clinics.
September clinics are usually among the largest because they signal
the beginning of flu season in two of our most populous communities.
To conclude the month,
we were honored to have 60 participants at our Member Appreciation
MRC members gathered to acknowledge the end of National
Preparedness Month by celebrating another year of service
through the unit.
After a welcoming cheer,
the group enjoyed a buffet dinner and an evening of camaraderie.
Members also received special pins that commemmorate the 10th
anniversary of the MRC program, plus certificates for their individual
service since our last appreciation event.
Terry Downes, Director
of the Homeland Security Program at Middlesex Community College
-- which hosted our Training Day this spring -- offered words
of encouragement to an attentive group.
Members enjoyed the
video that our unit leaders had compiled with photos sent from
MRC from across the country, which made its debut at the National
Integrated Summit in May.
Here's to another year
of serving the public through our local MRC! Congratuations, volunteers!
CLINIC SEASON - Once again, our members made us proud
by staffing 130 shifts, where 3480 residents were inoculated against
influenza and pneumonia. These clinics took place in five of our
seven UMV communities. UMV MRC volunteers provided a wide range
of medical and clerical functions.
This year's flu clinic
season was launched in Chelmsford. Both medical and non-medical
volunteers were essential at each location throughout the season.
September by inoculating hundreds of elderly and high-risk residents,
offering other clinic locations through mid-November.
row) and Tyngsboro (bottom row) held clinics for their
residents in October.
The last MRC-supported
offering was Tewksbury's final clinic of the season.
yourself and your loved ones from influenza -- get your
flu shot this season!
In early August, our volunteers served the public at the annual
National Night Out for Safety. The town of Tewksbury invited
various organizations to convene at the Council on Aging to provide
family-friendly exhibits for local residents.
Two of our RNs alternated between taking blood pressures,
promoting public health
initiatives, and welcoming new applicants to
the unit. Those who signed up received a complementary
MRC tote bag with
The next week, another
group of members gathered to brush up on First Aid techniques,
earning two-year certification through the American Heart Association.
These skills are handy to have not only for MRC activities, but
also for emergencies during every other facet of their lives.
Aid class included practice with splinting and other tactics
that can help during an
The next month, our
members set records at the UMV MRC booth in two regional fairs.
By the end of the annual Dracut Old Home Day and Billerica's
Yankee Doodle Homecoming Weekend, volunteers screened 270
residents for hypertension and engaged 150 youngsters in 'Let's
Move!' fitness exercises. In the process, we recruited several
new members, while raising positive awareness of the MRC and public
at Billerica's Yankee Doodle Homecoming Weekend raised positive
awareness of the MRC.
Another service opportunity
arose in mid-October, when our unit was asked to take blood pressures
at the annual Chelmsford High School wellness fair.
high school students and faculty members were offered free
hypertension screening and health tips.
November included a
focus on the needs of elderly and disabled residents in
times of disaster. The unit's director and coordinator participated
in a multi-agency workshop that assessed emergency shelter capabilities
in the Town of Westford; evaluating how well these needs had been
met in previous disasters, and how to improve in the coming months.
Unit leaders also accepted invitations to discuss Emergency Preparedness
at two senior citizens groups - the second of which was recorded
for broadcast on cable TV.
MRC staff explained the value of preparedness to a group
of elderly Chinese residents, communicating through a translator.
The presentation included tips on staying safe in case of
emergencies, and the value of having a 72-hour disaster
kit. The session applied concepts from recent presentations
to MRC members on Diversity and Cultural Awareness.
Chelmsford Council on Aging presentation was taped for later
broadcast on the local cable station.
At Family Preparedness
presentations, regional fairs, and other events, our unit continued
to make 72-hour emergency kits available for local residents.
If you'd like to create your own kit, consider filling a backpack
with this list
of suggested items for customizing disaster kits.
Two UMV MRC members
were among the volunteers to serve as victims in the annual Urban
Shield exercise on the first Saturday in November. This major
drill involved six Boston-area hospitals and multiple sites of
mock-disasters. The event allowed preparedness agencies to interact
in testing their response capabilities. (Although our unit does
not routinely involve members in activities outside our coverage
area, occasionally we pass along the information in case volunteers
wish to follow up with the sponsors.)
from our unit and
other organizations served as victims, often putting their
acting skills to good use.
of many locations of the disaster exercise was at Tufts
Medical Center. This scenario required passengers from a
mock ferry accident to be treated for toxins and various
BY THE NUMBERS
- The statistics of member involvement in our activities over
the past six months speak volumes about the dedication of our
# of UMV MRC members to date
participating in at least one activity
from August through November 2012
addition, members who responded to the standby call-out
for Hurricane Sandy
addition, participants at our
Member Appreciation Dinner celebration
filled by UMV MRC volunteers at
community service events this season
residents inoculated at clinics staffed from
September to November by UMV MRC volunteers
to the Points of Light calculator for the economic value
of volunteer service, dollar equivalent of regional UMV
MRC service at activities this season
Many thanks to each
of our caring volunteers for all that you do!
AWARD - In October our unit was awarded a $15,361.90
FEMA grant to enhance our capabilities for animal preparedness
in case of disaster. Through education of both the public and
emergency responders, as well as investments in essential equipment,
this funding can facilitate our region's ability to 'care for
the whole family.' The grant will cover a project that our unit
must conduct during the first six months of 2013.
animal retrieved in emergency
set up in an animal shelter to house pets after Hurricane
unable to care for themselves in disaster
escaping flooded neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane
FEMA now requires
communities to offer animal sheltering during disasters to qualify
for federal reimbursement. As Hurricane Katrina and other
crises have shown, many residents consider their pets to be part
of the family. These people will not leave their homes unless
they know their animals will be cared for, even if it means putting
themselves at risk by defying evacuation orders. Animals that
are NOT cared for in an emergency are not only in danger from
neglect, they also pose a serious hazard to a community if they
run wild or become injured.
Sources such as the
American Red Cross and Ready.Gov urge residents to 'take your
pets with you' when evacuating their homes. Disabled residents
may depend on service animals, which shelters are mandated to
accept. Details of our unit's upcoming project to apply the grant
will be posted separately.
NEWS - Many
of our activities lay the groundwork for greater effectiveness
in the coming year.
1. UMV MRC Advisory
Council: We are pleased to announce that Lynne Wagner has
become Chelmsford's new liaison to the MRC, completing our slate
of officers for the coming year. The Advisory Council has been
in place since our first months of operationin 2004, comprised
of one MRC member for each of the seven UMV communities. Sandy
Collins, RN, serves a dual role on the Advisory Council as Director
of the UMV MRC and Westford's Director of Healthcare Services.
See the table below for representation from each community.
Merrimack Valley Medical Reserve Corps -- Advisory Council
Members for 2013
WESTFORD UMV MRC
2. Holiday Message:
The Director of the National MRC Program, Captain Robert Tosatto,
sent an e-mail to inspire MRC leaders as the holiday season approaches.
We thought you might enjoy Rob's
message to MRCs for Thanksgiving and beyond.
3. Unit Leader Activities:
Your Director continues to participate in a number of task forces
and steering groups related to public health and the MRC. Thanks
to scholarships from NACCHO (Natl. Assn. of County and City Health
Officers), your staff is participating in the debut of 'Seasonal
Leadership Summits' with other MRC leaders from across the nation.
This new format of the national MRC conference was launched in
early December, at the National Conference Center near Washington,
Brown, Cdr. Patrick Denis, and Capt. Paul Reed of DCVMRC confirm
data as Capt. Rob Tosatto answers a question from the audience.
Admiral Boris Lushniak, the U. S. Deputy Surgeon General,
makes a point in his keynote address at the Seasonal Leadership
leaders from each of the
ten regions were invited to share examples of various materials.
A Vermont MRC unit offered
their three-panel poster, used
to attract prospective members
in marketing campaigns.
leaders from across the U.S. joined staff from the Division
of Civilian Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps (DCVMRC) for
a group photo, at the first seasonal summit. Attendees welcomed
the chance to focus on strengthening their units.
The UMV MRC will be providing a unique class that has received
accolades from first responders, emergency room and hospital personnel,
and other participants. On the rare occasions when these people
are caring for the public during an emergency and the client becomes
agitated, it's helpful to know some basic self-defense maneuvers
that defuse the situation, thereby protecting the rescuer and
the client. The Copkido course
will be offered on Saturday morning, January 12. Members were
notified through an e-mail announcement.
Have a safe and happy