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2018 MRC Program Recognition Awards

The MRC Program Recognition Awards were presented during a special MRC Well Check Webinar and simultaneous Twitter Presentation on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. The presentation included an announcement of the awardees and descriptions of their good work! A recording of the awards presentation is available online.

Community Resilience

The Community Resilience Award honors MRC units that have demonstrated contributions to resilience at the community level in their daily unit operations or through involvement in activities or events.

  • Central Nebraska MRC (NE) developed a new training initiative entitled ACT F.A.S.T. (First Available Simple Treatment), which emphasizes the importance of bleeding control and hands-only CPR. Since inception, the unit has trained more than 750 citizens, including the following groups: Boy Scouts of America; law enforcement; local schools in eight school districts; and the general public, including one event that had more than 150 community members in attendance. In addition to providing training, the Central Nebraska MRC is also providing stocked wall kits to schools that include tourniquets, sheers, gloves, and gauze. These kits are being installed in close proximity to the schools’ AED kits. From June 2017 through January 2018, Central Nebraska MRC has distributed more than 40 wall kits.

  • Choctaw Nation MRC (OK) conducted a risk analysis and found that drownings, skin cancer, and the transmission of viral infections were ranked at the top of public health risks threatening the residents of Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. With the numerous bodies of water within the community, residents and visitors are highly susceptible to water-related incidents, sunburns, and viral infections from mosquitoes. In an effort to minimize these risks, and in collaboration with the American Red Cross, the Choctaw Nation MRC launched its Skin Deep Initiative. As part of the initiative, MRC volunteers donated more than 100 hours of service to provide instruction and necessary precautionary supplies, including sunscreen, insect repellent, sunglasses, and lip-balm, at local pools, splash pads, and community events. An extension of this project was the development of culturally-sensitive water safety storybooks that were distributed with the precautionary supplies. These combined activities aim to lower the vulnerability of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and help increase public health preparedness overall.

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The Champion Award honors MRC units that have successfully carried out activities and initiatives over the past year that strengthens public health in their local communities. These activities and initiatives may include increasing disease prevention, eliminating health disparities, and improving public health preparedness.

  • Capitol City Pharmacy MRC (DC) developed two initiatives — “PrepareDC” and “MediServe” — as part of their outreach and health education work with senior citizens in Washington, DC. As part of the unit’s “PrepareDC” outreach services, seniors at local wellness and senior centers are provided emergency preparedness information, including the necessary items for emergency supply kits and the importance of having an emergency plan in place. As part of the unit’s “MediServe” initiative, seniors are provided education pamphlets on appropriate pain management and the proper use of opioids and other medications and prescription drugs. Additionally, as a pharmacy-specific MRC, the unit is actively involved in points of dispensing (POD) work. Through partnerships with a number of community organizations, the unit was able to lead and coordinate Washington, DC's first ever flu vaccination POD for the city’s homeless population this year.

  • Dallas County MRC (AL) operates a program called "Doc in a Bus," which utilizes volunteer physicians and nurses to provide free health care to low-income and underserved populations. With the help of community partners, the program is also able to provide prescription drug assistance and diabetic supplies to patients. The “Doc in a Bus” program currently serves approximately 600 patients per year, the vast majority of which suffer from diabetes and hypertension. In 2016, "Doc in a Bus" began accepting patients from the local hospital that did not have a physician for follow-up care. By doing so, the goal has been to cut down on readmission rates and emergency room visits. Approximately 30% of “Doc in a Bus” patients have been in the ER and the unit estimates that less than 10% revisit the ER for conditions for which the program is treating them. “Doc in a Bus” is clearly a valuable program that is having a positive impact on the local community.

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Outstanding MRC Responder

The Outstanding MRC Responder Award honors MRC volunteers who have played an instrumental role in responding to a disaster or public health emergency on behalf of their MRC during the past year.

  • Deborah Goldstein, an EMT with the Sacramento MRC (CA), has repeatedly proven herself to be an outstanding responder in her 12 years with the MRC. In 2017, Deborah participated in a number of emergency response efforts. With little notice, she staffed an American Red Cross shelter overnight in Sacramento County for people impacted by the Oroville Dam evacuation, flooding, and winter storms; she was deployed to staff a medical shelter in Napa during the Fall in response to the Northern California wildfires; and through her Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT), she deployed to assist with hurricane response efforts. In addition to active responses, Deborah played a key role in a full-scale airport exercise in 2017. The Sacramento MRC has a partnership with the Sacramento International Airport and has a medical trailer staged at the fire station for use by the fire department and MRC volunteers in the event of a plane crash, active shooter incident, or other emergency. Deborah played a key role in exercising these capabilities.

  • Robert Trout is an invaluable asset to the Fort Bend County MRC (TX). Since joining the MRC in 2016, Robert, who is a registered nurse, has attended every meeting and been a pivotal contributor to the MRC’s medical outreach team. In 2017, the Fort Bend MRC had several deployments and tasks as the unit responded to a Tuberculosis (TB) outbreak and the needs of community members and shelter residents during Hurricane Harvey. Robert took a leadership role in both deployments. During the TB response, he recruited several colleagues from his hospital to serve as volunteers, and he personally served as a division lead at the registration station. Fort Bend MRC, along with other partners, served more than 600 students during each TB screening. In response to Hurricane Harvey, while waters were rising all around and roads were closed in many directions, Robert traveled daily, working 12-hour shifts and serving more than 200 shelter residents each day at a local high school.

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Outstanding MRC Public Health Volunteer

The Outstanding MRC Public Health Volunteer honors MRC volunteers who have been actively engaged in carrying out public health activities (or a specific public health initiative) with their MRC during the past year.

  • Angel Kerr has been an active volunteer with the Oklahoma County MRC (OK) for five years. As a licensed practical nurse, Angel often serves as a medical volunteer, but she's also part of the Stress Response Team and the State Animal Response Team, as well as a staging liaison volunteer leader. She's completed an abundance of training, giving her a wealth of knowledge across all of the MRC Core Competencies. While she's technically an Oklahoma County volunteer because of where she lives and works, Angel also regularly volunteers with other units around the state! For instance, when a statewide activation was issued because the Tulsa Humane Emergency Animal Response Team received more than 100 shelter dogs after Hurricane Harvey, Angel traveled two hours to work multiple 10-hour shifts. She travels so often to volunteer with MRC units in the southwest part of the state that she is one of their most active volunteers, even though she lives more than an hour away. In just the last year, Angel has driven over 1,000 uncompensated miles to respond to activities in Southwest Oklahoma. Angel embodies what makes the MRC great - she is experienced in public health preparedness and response, and she is dedicated to bettering her community. Many new volunteers can be directly attributed to Angel’s natural recruitment efforts. People see her having fun and want to know more about the Medical Reserve Corps program.

  • Dr. Walter "Buddy" Witherspoon is a volunteer with the Midlands Public Health Reserve Corps in South Carolina. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, Division of Oral Health received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assess and track the oral health of 25,000 kindergarten and 3rd grade students in various schools throughout South Carolina over a period of 15 years. The assessment occurs every five years and results are used to provide valuable insight into the oral health of South Carolina's children, evaluate the impact of the state's preventive oral health programs, and assess the need for additional dental programs. In order to ensure all schools are covered and an adequate sampling is received, the Director of the Division of Oral Health reached out to the Midlands Public Health Reserve Corps and requested volunteers to help complete the screenings. The call for assistance went out from the Midlands Public Health Reserve Corps unit and dentist Walter Witherspoon immediately responded. From October to December 2017, Dr. Witherspoon assessed more than 1,000 children in five different schools. Often he provided his own transportation, received no travel reimbursement, and drove many miles outside of the unit's jurisdiction to help in other counties. Today, he continues to assist and jump started 2018 by providing an additional 550 assessments in January.

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Outstanding MRC Housing Organization

The Outstanding MRC Housing Organization Award honors MRC Housing Organizations that have served as an exemplary host agency to their MRC and have successfully supported, advocated on behalf, and helped integrate the MRC into their local community's public health and preparedness infrastructure.

  • The Oklahoma City County Health Department (OK) has shown steadfast commitment to the Oklahoma County MRC by providing financial assistance, hosting trainings, and including the unit in community events. The health department has also written the MRC into its emergency response plans. This year, the Oklahoma City County Health Department worked to promote the MRC to state and federal representatives by highlighting the unit’s responses and sharing stories of their awesome volunteers. The Oklahoma City County Health Department has been unwavering in their support of the unit leader and the department's preparedness staff helps ensure volunteer opportunities are never missed. Whether internally or externally, the Oklahoma City County Health Department has been a constant advocate for the MRC program.

  • The Richmond City Health District (VA) has provided strong support to the Richmond City MRC since its inception in 2006 and has grown to be a champion for utilizing the strengths and passions of volunteers to serve the community. In recent years, the MRC program has expanded from a cohort of volunteers trained in emergency preparedness to more active, regular participation in clinical operations, community events, and health education. Richmond City Health District leadership and staff welcome volunteers into regular health department operations and invest in developing volunteers’ skillsets by providing education and training as volunteers work side-by-side with staff in fulfilling needed roles. Richmond City Health District is committed to providing volunteers opportunities to gain public health experience in both clinical and community settings and fostering a sense of community between health district employees and volunteers.

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Outstanding MRC Partner Organization (or Partnership)

The Outstanding MRC Partner Organization (or Partnership) Award honors MRC Partner Organizations (or Partnerships) that have helped support an MRC in carrying out its local mission and have provided the MRC with more opportunities to participate in public health, preparedness, and response activities. The exemplary partner has played a role in helping to raise MRC awareness and foster MRC integration into their local community's public health and preparedness infrastructure.

  • The Humane Society of Tulsa (OK), a partner of the Tulsa County MRC (OK), goes above and beyond in everything they are involved in, including emergency response. They not only assist with boarding companion animals of shelter residents, they also wrangle, recover, and board pets from disaster sites. They solicit and gather pet supplies, often leaning on their extensive network, and then distribute the various supplies to those in need. But that’s not where they stop. After the local responses are over, the Humane Society of Tulsa will pull all of the animals from the local shelter that were not reunited with owners or were relinquished due to the disaster and bring them into their no-kill facility. The Humane Society is always available -- whether to activate as the Humane Emergency Animal Response Team (HEART), which the President of the Humane Society has agreed to lead for the Oklahoma MRC, or to provide assistance in any manner needed. When called, their reply is always “How can we help this time?!” They are always looking for ways to make our furry friends more prepared and really have the best interest of the full community in mind.

  • This Fall, Minnesota HOSA MRC hosted its fifth Annual HOSA MRC Training Camp at the Minnesota National Guard Camp Ripley. The training camp is a collaboration between the Minnesota HOSA MRC, Minnesota Behavioral Health MRC, Minnesota Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and the Minnesota National Guard, with each partner organization helping with planning and coordination, as well as teaching a number of courses during the camp. This year, there were 110 MRC volunteers in grades 7 through 12 representing 10 schools across the state in attendance. Students stayed in the barracks and participated in a rigorous training curriculum, including drills and exercises. As part of the partnership and collaboration, HOSA student advisors provided training in First Aid and CPR, and coordinated the exercises and drills. The Behavioral Health MRC assisted with camp planning and coordination, as well as taught Psychological First Aid, DRAT!, and an overview of Skills for Psychological Recovery. Homeland Security and Emergency Management taught ICS-100, among other courses. And lastly, the National Guard taught courses on EMT Trauma Assessment and MEDEVAC, IV training, and Airway Management, as well as others. Students left camp exhausted, but armed with valuable new knowledge and skills that will allow them to serve and support their communities in times of disaster.

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Outstanding New MRC Unit

The Outstanding New MRC Unit Award honors an MRC unit that is newly-established in the last year and has already made a significant contribution to strengthening the community's public health, preparedness, and/or response system.

  • Sawyer County MRC (WI) was established in March 2017 and hit the ground running. Since their establishment, they have been activated 11 times, including many times for their search and rescue team. They have also been working hard on an initiative to combat human trafficking in their region. The state of Wisconsin has developed a state-level Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force to address more local, community-specific issues related to the identification of and assistance for potential human trafficking victims. The Sawyer County MRC proposed to address this identified gap by training regional MRC volunteers to be “Trained Presenters” in their respective professional agencies and communities. Training included key elements of identification, rescue, recovery, and resources available for potential victims of human trafficking in order to raise situational awareness and reduce the risk of trafficking in vulnerable populations. Part of this initiative was to create First Steps Survivor Backpacks – backpacks filled with one set of clothing, hygiene products, and a handwritten card of encouragement. Backpacks were distributed to health departments in the northwest region of Wisconsin to give to their partners when they rescued or encountered a trafficking victim. For a brand new unit that has grown to 19 volunteers, Sawyer County MRC already exemplifies true partnership and resilience building.

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The Innovator Award honors MRC units that have initiated and carried out a novel and innovative activity over the past year that have helped build on MRC unit and housing organization efforts, engaged unit volunteers in the process, and contributed to strengthening the community's public health, preparedness, or response system.

  • Brazoria County MRC (TX) prepared for, responded to, and is still assisting with recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey's heavy rainfall and historic flooding this past August and September. After the flood waters receded, and damage was being assessed, well water contamination became a major concern for many residents and Brazoria County water lab began offering free water testing. Brazoria County is home to a small Cambodian community who is largely dependent on farming water spinach for a living. After learning that the community was dependent on private wells, and most of them had not yet been tested, the Brazoria County MRC offered to assist with the sampling process. Many of the residents did not understand the process, had language barriers, and were hesitant to proceed on their own. Since nothing like this had been done before, the County Water Lab Director presented a class for Brazoria County MRC volunteers on proper sampling techniques, and provided special sample containers and documentation. The MRC met on three days, at the Cambodian village, and completed sampling of 98 private wells. The samples were taken for testing and results provided to each home. If any of the samples tested positive, the MRC then followed back up and performed a second sample of the well. The Brazoria County MRC was innovative and willing to serve their community however possible – including taking on and learning new tasks.

  • The Torrington Area Health District MRC (CT) operates a program called Project Mitigate, which was formed in response to the opioid crisis in Connecticut. The opioid problem is a complex one, and Project Mitigate was designed to make the basic tenants of harm reduction available to those who need it most. As part of the Project Mitigate program, the Torrington Area Health District MRC has trained approximately 375 first responders, clinicians, and members of the greater Torrington community — including caregivers, family members, and those suffering from addiction — in harm reduction, overdose recognition and reversal skills. The group also distributed Narcan to 200 training attendees. Project Mitigate takes place in Northwestern Connecticut, which covers approximately 30 towns. The project is now partnering with a sister MRC unit in the southern portion of Connecticut, which will expand the 2018 impact zone to include an additional 60,000 residents. Project Mitigate has helped build the Torrington Area Health District MRC and the Torrington Area Health District organization as a leader in the community, the region, and the state. It is innovative because it engages both non-profit and faith-based organizations to provide training in non-threatening settings like churches, synagogues, and community centers. The training does not pass judgement on the participants, but merely provides tools in order to navigate the challenges of opioid addiction and respond to an identified community risk.

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The Mentor Award honors MRC leaders that have successfully collaborated with other members of the MRC network over the past year to share practices, participate in activities, and carry out initiatives that have strengthened individual and collective groups of MRC units.

  • Cornelia Jammer, the unit coordinator of the Fort Bend County MRC (TX), has consistently been a powerful and encouraging voice to MRC leaders in her region – a region that experiences many types of natural disasters and where MRC units are frequently activated. Her common sense approach and willingness to share tools of the trade have been a tremendous source of relief for many new leaders. She has served on the MRC Regional Conference Planning Committee for the past two years, and has freely shared ideas, trade secrets, and plans to other local leaders on how to obtain everything from in-kind donations to volunteer refreshments during community responses. Cornelia also serves as a Mentor in the Bob Cohen MRC Mentorship Program.

  • Corinne McKeown, the unit coordinator of the Berkshire MRC (MA), has become a leader among leaders, assisting coordinators from three other counties in planning and preparing for response. In western Massachusetts, the MRC units also oversee Disaster Animal Response Teams (DART). Last fall, Corinne developed a game board to use for DART exercises. The game, loosely based on Monopoly, walks players through the needs animals and animal owners have during a disaster. In the center of the board is a shelter layout, complete with a designated animal sheltering area. As players move around the board, they pick up cards that ask them questions ranging from administrative aspects of animal sheltering to operational aspects. It drives home animal sheltering concepts in a fun and engaging manner. Corinne developed the game on her own, but brought it to a meeting of the western Massachusetts MRC coordinators for review and feedback. She then made the board available to any of them to borrow at any time to use with their own volunteers. She has proven to be an indispensable asset in western Massachusetts and an excellent mentor to her peers.

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MRC Youth Engagement

The MRC Youth Engagement Award honors MRC units that have successfully promoted the utilization of youth (age 14 to 23) in their local mission and has provided young people with opportunities to participate in public health, preparedness, or response activities. The exemplary youth engagement program will have played a role in raising awareness and education about health, response, and resilience related subjects to youth in the community by incorporating young people in unit programs, activities, and initiatives.

  • For the past three summers, Oklahoma MRC Nurses (OK) has sponsored a Summer Nursing Student Externship in Public Health Emergency Preparedness & Response. The nursing student externs are young adults in traditional undergraduate nursing programs and the externship is intended to provide them in-depth knowledge and skills related to emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and community resiliency. This program has grown significantly each year. In 2015, the externship began with eight nursing students at one nursing program. A part of the externship is to present personal preparedness to middle, high school, and peer nursing students. In 2015, this resulted in 150 high school and 100 nursing students receiving two hours of emergency preparedness & response instruction. In 2016, the externship grew to 12 students at three nursing programs. Their outreach included 50 eighth graders, 90 high school students, and over 200 nursing students. In 2017, the externship grew again to 21 student externs, with outreach to more than 340 students. Over the three summers, the externs reached more than 800 middle, high school and college students to tell them about personal preparedness and the role of nurses in emergency preparedness.

  • Tarrant County MRC (TX), through partnerships with HOSA-Future Health Professionals, has worked hard to engage local students. What started as a relationship with one school in 2009 has grown to 10 schools for the 2017-2018 school year, comprising a total of 78 youth volunteers between the ages of 15 and 18. HOSA students work with the MRC on projects aimed at increasing community preparedness and positive health outcomes through educational activities and events. Since September of 2017, the unit’s HOSA youth volunteers have worked a total of 425 hours assisting at events, such as back-to-school immunization clinics, DEA Drug Take Back events, local walks/runs, and West Nile Virus neighborhood canvassing. The Tarrant County MRC also hosts several competitions each year designed to increase youth public health awareness. One example is the unit’s National Public Health Week poster and Eat Right Be Bright curriculum design contests in which participants are tasked with creating educational materials designed to address the Healthy People 2020 and Surgeon General priorities.

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MRC Picture of the Year

The MRC Picture of the Year highlights photographs of MRC volunteers in action at public health, response, training, or other events. The words Medical Reserve Corps or the MRC logo should be clearly visible and displayed correctly.

  • MRC Los Angeles (CA) conducted a flu vaccination point of dispensing drill at a local school in partnership with the City of Pasadena Public Health Department. While it is fun for many students to get out of class for a minute, some students find it a bit more traumatic than others once they are in the chair for their vaccines. In the Picture of the Year photo, MRC Los Angeles volunteers are helping a young boy who is nervous to relax and get through the momentary fear through laughter and distraction tactics.

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    Elizabeth Fitch Memorial Leadership Award

    The Elizabeth Fitch Memorial Leadership Award was established in memory of Elizabeth Fitch who served as an MRC unit leader, MRC Regional Coordinator, and MRC National Technical Assistance Coordinator. This award recognizes individuals who exemplify the outstanding passion, commitment, and spirit of volunteerism, partnership, and leadership that Elizabeth embodied and inspired in others.

    • Katherine McCormack, the Connecticut MRC State Coordinator and Capitol Region MRC Unit Leader in Hartford, CT, has been involved with the MRC program since 2002 when the Connecticut Capitol Region MRC was part of the MRC pilot initiative. Katherine is a recognized leader throughout the state by her peers and has been innovative and inclusive in promoting the MRC since its inception. She is a fearless connector – she often presents at regional and national preparedness conferences and has brought high-level state officials, including the Governor, the Assistant Secretary for Health, and the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Health to speak at annual Connecticut MRC and CERT multi-day symposiums that she leads. She is a genuine MRC supporter and advocate with a true commitment to the program’s mission. She holds her unit leaders accountable to their programming; assists them in obtaining in resources and funding through innovative approaches; and constantly communicates in a bi-directional manner with her peers, partners, leaders, and the public.

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      4/9/2018 1:12:04 PM