HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson recently announced the availability of $2 million in grants to help local officials develop volunteer Medical Reserve Corps units to strengthen local communities’ capacity to respond to an emergency and to strengthen the local public health infrastructure.
"Following the Sept. 11 tragedy, many health professionals wanted to volunteer to help," Thompson said. "While well-trained in their individual professions, they were not necessarily trained to respond in an emergency. Moreover, existing structures weren’t fully adequate to absorb these volunteers and to use their expertise as effectively as possible. The Medical Reserve Corps will enable local officials to strengthen their community’s ability to respond effectively."
Medical Reserve Corps units will be composed of community led and community based volunteers who may assist medical response professionals and facilities during large-scale local emergencies, such as naturally occurring influenza epidemics, hazardous materials spills or acts of terrorism. Volunteers can include, but are not limited to, current or retired health professionals (such as physicians, nurses, mental health professionals, dentists, dental assistants, pharmacists and veterinarians), social workers, communications/public relations professionals, health care administrators and clergy, among others.
Local communities can apply for up to $50,000 in grants to develop their own Medical Reserve Corps units.
The Medical Reserve Corps is part of the USA Freedom Corps. President Bush announced USA Freedom Corps during his 2002 State of the Union address.
USA Freedom Corps works with key service agencies in government and the nonprofit sector to provide incentives and new opportunities for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve at home and abroad.
USA Freedom Corps includes the Citizen Corps, Corporation for National and Community Service (which includes AmeriCorps and Senior Corps) and the Peace Corps. The Medical Reserve Corps is part of the Citizen Corps.
In addition to assisting during a local emergency, Medical Reserve Corps volunteers can assist their communities with ongoing public health needs, such as immunizations, blood drives, health and nutrition education, anti-smoking campaigns and increased physical activity campaigns.
The Medical Reserve Corps is not intended to replace a community’s already-existing emergency response systems, but rather to supplement and support existing systems with volunteers who are trained to function effectively in emergency situations.
Complete applications must be received no later than August 23, 2002. Applications must be prepared using Form PHS 5161-1 (revised July 2000), which is available at http://www.cdc.gov/od/pgo/forminfo.htm, and should be sent to Karen Campbell; Grants Management Officer; Division of Management Operations; Office of Minority Health; Office of Public Health and Science; Rockwell II Bldg.; Suite 1000; 5515 Security Lane; Rockville, Md. 20852.
More information about the Medical Reserve Corps grant availability is available at http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/mrc. More information about the USA Freedom Corps and Citizens Corps can be obtained at http://www.usafreedomcorps.gov or http://www.citizencorps.gov.