FRAMINGHAM, MA -- The Framingham Medical Reserve Corps unit needs new volunteers, especially nurses, and doctors.
Created after Sept 11, 2001, the Medical Reserve Corps is a federally-recognized and state-supported “community-based group of volunteers who assist local public health departments to promote healthy living as well as to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergency events.”
Massachusetts currently has 12 units across the Commonwealth.
Here in Framingham, the Medical Reserve Corps can be seen assisting at vaccine clinics and providing a first-aid tent at events like the Framingham Farmers’ Market and the 2023 Farm Pond fireworks.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Framingham Medical Reserve Corps volunteer Meredith Wolff traveled to the home of a 107-year-old resident to administer a COVID vaccine. Wolff, a registered nurse, has been volunteering with the Corps for 10 years. She continues to volunteer as it “just makes my heart so full.”
In April, Framingham Medical Reserve Corps volunteer Roberta Ho collected unwanted and expired medications from residents at a drug take-back day in the Framingham Police parking lot. “Framingham depended on the participation of the MRC for many of their community events,” said Ho, who now co-leads the Medical Reserve Corps in this City. “I truly believe in the organization's goal and mission,” added Ho, who started volunteering in 2011.
Ho, along with volunteer Joe Guertin, is responsible for coordinating the current efforts and volunteers of the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC).
Many of the volunteers have been with the organization for a decade, including volunteer Bill Blumsack.
Joe Guertin has been volunteering for 8-10 years. Earlier this month, he was at the MetroWest Care Connection Adult Resource Fair on the Framingham Downtown Common on June 6th. Over the years, he has volunteered his time at first-aid tents for the Boston Marathon, Devin’s Dash 5K road race, and at the Framingham Public Library’s Noche De Fiesta event last summer. Guertin started volunteering with the MRC because “I’ve always taken it upon myself to be that prepared person.” Through the Medical Reserve Corps, he is able to do exactly that.
Medical Reserve Corps volunteers have backgrounds in public health fields like nursing or pharmacy but also may be social workers, interpreters, and epidemiologists.
One issue with the Medical Reserve Corp currently is volunteer training, as many of the volunteers have expired first aid, CPR, and other skill certifications. Without this training, the volunteers are not able to “execute the essential tasks that the MetroWest community relies heavily on,” said Ho.
Currently, there are about 100 volunteers in the Framingham program, said Framingham Director of Health Bill Murphy who added, “No special skills are needed” and that "the Medical Reserve Corps plays an essential role in the City of Framingham community health plan".
“We hope to begin, (with the support of the police and fire departments), routine training in first aid, CPR, stop the bleed, active shooter, etc,” said Murphy.
Doctors and nurses, EMTS, and others in the medical field must stay active with their certifications, including CPR, so having them as volunteers with the MRC is a plus.
“Two major events taught us a lot about the value and need for MRC’s. 9/11 and the global COVID pandemic. Emergency preparedness and response require more manpower than our relatively small health department can provide. Whether there are small or large vaccination clinics needed, demand to open shelters after major weather events, requests for first aid tents for dozens of community events, or support to police and fire for emergencies, trained volunteers are needed in all capacities not just medical,” said Murphy.
There is no minimum time commitment to maintain status as a volunteer with the Framingham Medical Reserve Corps.
Some volunteers assist with one activation or request a year, while others volunteer their services whenever a request is sent out. Volunteers are never pressured into accepting an assignment.
If you are interested in being a Medical Reserve Corp volunteer, contact Framingham Director of Health Bill Murphy at: email@example.com
Source: City of Framingham Media Release / Reporting by Mira Donaldson, (Intern, Framingham Mayor’s Office).