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Volunteers needed when disaster strikes
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Preparing for the worst, the Medical Reserve Corps needs volunteers who could mean the difference between life and death in time of disaster.
“We don’t have enough help should an emergency happen involving the entire district,” said Dawn Hickey of the Medical Reserve Corps which is actively seeking medical and non-medical volunteers. “In Warren County we have 120, but we need 300.”
The Medical Reserve Corps was set up in 2002 shortly after the 911 attacks. Its first priority was to be ready should smallpox be used as an agent by terrorists to attack the United States population. The idea is to provide medicine in a rapid manner to the entire population should an outbreak occur.
“The idea is to have a central point of dispensing,” Hickey said, noting in cases involving a pandemic or biological attack it is important to get medicine to the public quickly. “In the case of anthrax we would be on a 48-hour plan.”
According to Hickey, Warren County has two public sites where people would come to get their medicine and/or antidote, those being Warren County High School and Warren County Fairgrounds.
Hickey said the fairgrounds would be a drive-thru, pick-up point where people could stay in their cars and be given their medicine after their paperwork is complete. The idea has been tested in a drill at the fairgrounds and worked smoothly.
“We would need 150 people per shift working in 10-hour shifts,” Hickey explained in her plea for volunteers.
Along with being a distribution organization for life-saving antidotes, the Medical Reserve Corps has expanded to help in case of emergency.
“We now have emergency strike teams that we can send in during disasters,” Hickey said, noting the Macon County tornadoes a few years ago brought about the new use.
Hickey said the group has also helped set up emergency shelters which could be used in case of major disasters. One potential disaster on the radar is what would happen if a massive earthquake hit the New Madrid fault which is near West Tennessee.
“We would have a lot of people coming this way,” Hickey said, noting there would need to be massive accommodations for those fleeing the devastation that would follow such a major earthquake.
For the efforts to work, Hickey said there is a great need to volunteers.
“We need medical and non-medical because there is a lot that needs doing beside the dispensing of medicine,” Hickey said, noting there is a system that would notify volunteers within minutes of a disaster or attack.
As for benefits of being a volunteer, the biggest, Hickey said, is that volunteers and their families are the first to get the medicines and antidotes.
Anyone interested in volunteering can go to: https:thanvolunteer.health.state.tn.us/volunteermobilizer.