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Volunteer Spotlight

The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Program spotlights volunteers that highlight the MRC Program's mission; underscore the importance of volunteerism; and promote collaboration at the local, state, and national levels. New spotlights will be added to illustrate the work being performed throughout the nation by MRC volunteers.


Abby Beerman volunteers with the Green River District MRC in Owensboro, KY. She is also an epidemiologist with the Green River District Health Department and holds a Master of Public Health degree in Epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh.

Abby Beerman
Abby Beerman

I love volunteering with the MRC because the volunteers in my unit are passionate about supporting and improving their community. They are surge capacity not only during disasters but every day of the year. It's an honor to be a part of such an amazing group of people.

Senior Day Out at the Mall is a large annual community event in September. The Green River District MRC has taken part in the event for several years, but last year we enhanced our message delivery. Through collaboration with the Green River District Citizen Corps, County Emergency Managers, and other emergency-focused community organizations, we established a preparedness wing in a section of the mall. In the wing, we have 10 stations designed to educate and prepare seniors for small- and large-scale disasters.

Through interactive stations, we demonstrate disasters common in the area, including earthquakes, floods, and tornados. During the interactive demonstrations, MRC volunteers

  • discuss ways to mitigate risk and how seniors can prepare for any eventuality;
  • display preparedness kits to encourage seniors to put together their own kit;
  • share brochures on how to build your own grab-and-go bag or a shelter-in-place kit;
  • advise seniors to purchase one small item per month (for those with limited income) so they can build a disaster preparedness kit in a year; and
  • discuss how to modify preparedness bags for individual needs.

In addition, we provide diabetes-focused preparedness information that we developed as part of our Decreasing Diabetes, Increasing Resiliency Challenge Grant. To promote senior engagement at the preparedness wing during the Senior Day at the Mall, we hold a raffle for seniors who visit each station. Prizes are preparedness-themed items such as weather radios and fire extinguishers, which are essential to personal preparedness.

The best part of the event is not only that you have a positive impact with a high-risk population but that all these organizations are coming together to educate the public. Collaboration with community partners is what makes the Senior Day Out at the Mall such a successful community event.

Lu Ann Berlinski volunteers with the Central New York MRC in Syracuse, NY.

I volunteer with the MRC because I believe in their mission. They have a wide variety of volunteer opportunities throughout the year that enable me to pick and choose which I can support. What also drew me to the MRC was I felt I was doing something to benefit the community and get them prepared should we have an outbreak of a communicable disease.

In 2018, I have participated in multiple dog and cat rabies vaccination clinics. I love these clinics because they make it easier for pet owners to have their pets vaccinated. I usually greet the owner and animals and fill out the required rabies certificate paperwork; this is the fun part of my day after a hectic day at work. I’ve noticed that many people take advantage of these clinics, and I have been told if we didn’t have them, their animals might not get their rabies vaccine.

I’ve also participated in a couple of large PODs (Point of Distribution) at Syracuse University (SU). SU had an outbreak of measles that occurred right after I participated in their POD for flu vaccinations. For both PODs, I was responsible for checking in students to ensure that their paperwork was filled out correctly and that they understood the vaccines.

Helping the MRC at these PODs gets me involved in the student community and allows me to interact with the students and faculty, which is an opportunity I might not otherwise have. These clinics are so important to the well-being of the community because inoculating students and faculty helps stop the spread of flu (and measles). SU and the Onondaga Health Department are proving they are prepared to tackle whatever issues pop up, including inoculating thousands of people with a limited staff in a matter of hours.

Stacy Blacketer is the MRC Coordinator with the Mercer County MRC in Harrodsburg, KY.

stacy blacketer
Stacy Blacketer

My husband has been a local firefighter for the past 20 years. Given his work responding to emergencies, including flooding, ice storms, and tornados, I realized most people are not prepared for emergencies. When I learned about the MRC, I was excited to know there is a program I could work with to help people in our community be better prepared for disaster.

The MRC is an organization that allows me, family, friends, and coworkers to make our community stronger. My work and training with fellow MRC volunteers has given me a sense of being a part of something larger and making a positive difference in our community. In 2010, our local MRC started partnering with the Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) students from our local vocational school. These young minds brought my positive experience with MRC to a whole new level.

My goal is to help inspire these teens to be the best they can be and to teach them that volunteering can strengthen them as well as their community. In reality, they inspire me. I love seeing their creative minds come up with new and inventive ways to keep our community healthy and strong. Over the past few years, we have typically had 6 to 12 students sign up to volunteer with the MRC annually. This year, we have 38! Some of the topics they will work on this year include bullying and suicide prevention, There’s a Monster in Your Medicine Cabinet, Stop the Bleed, Healthy People, Active Communities, a cancer awareness video, and The First 72 Are On You.

This September, the students, along with adult MRC Volunteers, launched a campaign called “The First 72 Are On You . . . What Will You Do?” We know most people do not have the resources or plans in place in the event of an emergency. We developed a flyer with facts about the first 72 hours in a disaster and included a 24-week shopping list of supplies you need during a disaster. We will be handing these flyers out at our local Walmart and Kroger. We will also distribute the flyers to local businesses. I have arranged for us to set up a booth during a local festival to reach even more people. At these outreach events, the students and MRC volunteers will be signing up individuals for the Code Red warning system as well as recruiting new volunteers for the MRC.

Thanks to our MRC efforts over the years, when disaster strikes, we will come together to help each other. Being prepared is about knowing your neighbors, staying in touch with family and friends, and having a plan in place. Making a difference in just once person’s life, whether big or small, is why I volunteer.

Evan Blomquist volunteers with the Washington County MRC in Stillwater, MN.

Evan Blomquist
Evan Blomquist

I became an MRC volunteer after being on the receiving end of their efforts immediately following the May 2008 Hugo Tornado. My house, along with many others, was destroyed while we huddled under the stairs waiting for the storm to blow over. In the time it took us to reach the top of the stairs and make our way through the first floor of our shattered house to get outside, the MRC and other first responders were already on the scene helping people get to safety and telling us what to do next.

In the time since the tornado, I have become a registered nurse working at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. My passion is trauma and emergency medical attention as well as a general passion for helping people, just as the MRC helped my family and me. Joining the MRC gave me the opportunity to give back to my community and help those in need.

As I mentioned, trauma and emergency medicine is a passion of mine. Stop the Bleed training has allowed me to learn vital skills needed to stop traumatic bleeding and potentially save a life. The skills seem rather basic, but many people don't know how to respond in a traumatic situation. Teaching this class gives me the chance to put those skills in the hands of the general population as well as specific county workers.

The Stop the Bleed campaign was started as a White House response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. I hate to say it, but school and mass shootings have become increasingly common in our country, and preparing yourself to act in that type of situation can save lives. Traumatic bleeding can also occur in our day-to-day life. I've learned through my work that seemingly small injuries can have larger implications and become a fatal situation quickly if not handled in the correct way. Plus, who doesn't want to save a life?

Delores Craig-Moreland is a volunteer with the Snohomish County MRC in Everett, WA.

I volunteer with MRC because it makes sense to be part of a community effort to be prepared for any emergency. As an MRC volunteer, I have learned the incident command approach and know how the various roles fit together to make a coherent team. I want my community to deal as effectively as possible with any emergency. The activities we provide assistance with allow us to work as a part of a team and fulfill an important role. We get many training opportunities that allow us to build skills that would be valuable in a problem event.

My two most recent volunteer events were providing first aid at a local triathalon and working at a lost person booth for the state fair. In both cases, the MRC was part of a complex team that included many different organizations working together. At the athletic event we coordinated with law enforcement and community leaders, as well as a national organization for athletes. We got practice using radios and performing simple first aid, as well as working with EMTs to help a more seriously injured person. 

The state fair was great practice for a disaster because there were large groups of people who needed some direction, and we interfaced with medical personnel from the local hospital, law enforcement personnel, and local government staff engaged in managing the event. Of course, it helps that these events are fun and allow me to interact with people who are interesting and doing interesting things. I really value learning the communication system and how to be part of a big effort. 

Philip Powell is a volunteer with the Washington County MRC in Stillwater, MN.

Philip Powell
Philip Powell

Public service is a way of life for me. I enlisted in the military at 17 and spent 27 years in the service. After retiring from the Army, my second career was 20 years in civilian law enforcement. Retiring for the second time as a state-certified emergency medical responder with training and experience in emergency management, I thought, “Why let all that go to waste?”

I discovered the MRC while looking for a way to keep my skills current and continuing to serve the community. The MRC opened the door to new training opportunities and participation in worthwhile activities.

My involvement in the MRC has been personally rewarding. I enjoy meeting and working with other like-minded volunteers, and I’m learning things about government agencies and programs that are really interesting to me.

At blood drives, which our MRC helps staff, I enjoy monitoring the donors for possible adverse reactions from donating, and, on several occasions, I’ve been able to treat minor problems before they became serious. It always feels good when you can help people.

I also enjoy working at the evacuee reception center when our county exercises its Radiological Emergency Plan (REP). With my 50-year background in radiological monitoring and decontamination, I enjoy seeing how the technology has developed and how our competence continues to improve as a result of regular training.

One benefit of participation in MRC activities is peace of mind. You learn, firsthand, about the resources and dedicated people that are ready to respond when things go wrong. It helps me sleep at night!

Kerry Premo is an epidemiologist by training, with a Master of Public Health degree from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. She was also a fellow in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Associate Program and previously worked for the Florida Department of Health (DOH) in Epidemiology and Emergency Preparedness.

I joined the MRC because I am acutely aware of the vital support that volunteer organizations such as the MRC provide in times of need. In addition, I found that I enjoyed my role in emergency preparedness and response at DOH and knew that volunteering with the MRC would enable me to maintain the skill set needed for these kinds of responses. Overall, I have valued the role the MRC plays in public health preparedness and response and wanted to stay involved in my local community.

As a recent addition to the D.C. MRC, the Fourth of July event was the first opportunity for me to volunteer, so I decided to jump right in! I am relatively new to the D.C. area, and I wanted to get out and experience the Fourth of July in the Nation’s Capital.

Deborah Quinn is a registered nurse with the Thurston County MRC in Olympia, WA.

Primarily, I joined the Thurston County MRC to give back to the community. I was also interested in becoming more knowledgeable in disaster response and management.

My most recent MRC activities have been mass vaccinations for school-aged children and Western Region MRC training relating to “Stop the Bleed” and medical countermeasures operations. I'm a strong advocate of protecting the population through immunizations, and the MRC provides me this opportunity. During a disaster, the last thing you want to worry about is an outbreak of a preventable disease. 

12/3/2018 11:29:47 PM