Coordinating emergency medical relief through volunteers

By Michelle Costanza

August 1, 2013 Updated Aug 2, 2013 at 10:38 AM EDT

Owego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Thousands of volunteers throughout New York state are deployed to disaster locations each year. Representatives from one agency responsible for that deployment said Thursday organization and preparedness are key.

Beyond supplementing public health resources in upstate communities throughout the year, the Medical Reserve Corp calls on volunteers during crises.

ServNY is the program that manages 28 volunteer units statewide, with a database that allows medical and non medical professionals to be certified and deployed to emergency situations.

"Our system is tied into state ed(ucation), the Attorney General's Office, DEA, so that we are able to deploy people as soon as possible," said MRC State Coordinator Judy Homer.

Homer is in charge of calling in volunteers from specific counties based on availability. Depending on the severity of the disaster or organization in need, hundred of MRC units may receive a request for deployment.

"It's important for people in central New York to know that you have a community that can support you if a situation should happen that you actually have to leave your home. The volunteers can assist with sheltering, they can assist with vaccination clinics, if necessary get medications out to the community," she said.

One of the most recent and largest deployment calls to New York MRC volunteers was for Superstorm Sandy relief. More than 200 trained volunteers responded to the emergency through the ServNY agency last year.

MRC noted that a well-rounded and educated force is beneficial to have before an event happens. The agency routinely trains new volunteers throughout the year at each of its units.

For more information, go to the Medical Reserve Corps homepage.

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