Medical Reserve Corps

Medical Reserve Corps logo

The Morris County Medical Reserve Corps is a well-prepared and trained workforce of volunteers to help public health protect the community in the event of a public health emergency.

The MRC:

  • is one of several components of Citizen Corps
  • provides health professionals and others an organization where they can volunteer their time and skills
  • prepares and responds to emergencies, such as an influenza or smallpox epidemic, chemical spill, or act of terrorism
  • coordinated with municipal health departments by the Morris County Office of Health Management

Volunteer for the MRC

Resources

Core Competencies

Orientation to Public Health

Orientation to Public Health is a web-based course that provides learners with a basic understanding of public health’s mission and functions. Designed to orient newly hired support, technical staff and volunteers to the field, the course consists of two parts:

  • Part One introduces the mission and six obligations of public health
  • Part Two explains the ten essential services.

The course uses the metaphor of a computer-based new worker orientation to present information. By reading e-mails, completing assigned tasks, and participating in simulated desktop conferences, the learner discovers that public health is very much a part of everyday life, and learns how many different agencies work to carry out its mission.

Upon completion of the course please print the certificate and mail or fax (609-265-3152) to Heather Scotto at the Burlington County Health Department.

Psychological First Aid

(Scroll down to Psychosocial Aspects of Bioterrorism and Disaster Response for Public Health Professionals and log in to take the course)

This training will focus on enhancing the knowledge of public health professionals on the Psychosocial aspects of Bioterrorism and Disaster Response. Public health professionals will learn the psychological response to critical incidents so they can diminish the risk of hysteria in the population at large. Included will be a case based training to demonstrate participant`s ability to manage community response during a traumatic incident.

Objectives

  • Understand human behavior in disaster, including factors affecting individual responses to
    disaster, phases of disaster, `at risk` groups, concepts of loss and grief, post disaster stress,
    and the disaster recovery process.
  • Understand the organizational aspects of disaster response and recovery, including key roles,
    responsibilities, and resources; local, State, Federal, and voluntary agency programs; and
    how to link disaster survivors with appropriate resources and services.
  • Understand how to intervene effectively with special populations in disaster, including
    children, older adults, people with disabilities, ethnic, and cultural groups indigenous to the
    area, and the disenfranchised or people living in poverty with few resources.
  • Understand the stress inherent in disaster work and recognize and manage that stress for
    themselves and with other workers.

Incident Command System (ICS) 100

ICS 100, Introduction to the Incident Command System, introduces the Incident Command System (ICS) and provides the foundation for higher level ICS training. This course describes the history, features, principles, and organizational structure of the Incident Command System. It also explains the relationship between ICS and the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

Upon completion of the course please print the certificate and mail or fax (609-265-3152) to Heather Scotto at the Burlington County Health Department.

National Incident Management System (NIMS) 700

This course introduces NIMS and takes approximately three hours to complete. It explains the purpose, principles, key components and benefits of NIMS.

What will I be able to do when I finish this course?

  • Describe the key concepts and principles underlying NIMS.
  • Identify the benefits of using ICS as the national incident management model.
  • Describe when it is appropriate to institute an Area Command.
  • Describe when it is appropriate to institute a Multi agency Coordination System.
  • Describe the benefits of using a Joint Information System (JIS) for public
  • Identify the ways in which NIMS affects preparedness.
  • Describe how NIMS affects how resources are managed.
  • Describe the advantages of common communication and information management systems.
  • Explain how NIMS influences technology and technology systems.
  • Describe the purpose of the NIMS Integration Center.

Newsletters

FAQ

Who is responsible for the program?

In Morris County the program is coordinated by the Office of Health Management a division of the Morris County Department of Law and Public Safety. Some municipalities have established MRC units.

On the national level, President Bush tasked the Department of Health and Human Services, under Secretary Tommy Thompson, with developing and implementing the MRC. Secretary Thompson designated the Office of the Surgeon General (OSG) to take lead responsibility within HHS to develop a program to promote and support the development of the Medical Reserve Corps. The Office of the Surgeon General undertook this responsibility in March 2002.

Are there already programs like the Medical Reserve Corps in operation? If so, why is The Medical Reserve Corps necessary?

There are similar programs that exist, with and without the support of the federal government. This includes, for example, the Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMAT). There are, however, only 23 DMAT teams in the United States. Also, these teams are “federalized” during large-scale emergencies and may not be available to assist in their home communities in the event of a large-scale national emergency. MRC units, on the other hand, are created by communities for local use and can only be activated by their local communities.

There is a big concern about liability issues for health professionals. Is the US Government doing anything about this?

In NJ, during a public health emergency, the Governor may activate the Emergency Health Powers Act which will provide liability coverage to MRC volunteers.

Another form of liability coverage comes under the Office of Emergency Management. If a municipality or County OEM activates volunteers that are listed as municipal or county assets, there will be liability coverage.

From the federal perspective, the US Government, health profession organizations and voluntary organizations are fully aware of this concern. It must be kept in mind, however, that in our federal system of government, tort law is primarily a state responsibility. All states have some form of “good Samaritan legislation,” although this legislation is limited in its protections. The Volunteer Protection Act (“VPA”) (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 14501 et. Seq.) provides qualified immunity for liability for volunteers and, subject to exceptions, preempts inconsistent state laws on the subject, except for those that provide protections stronger than those contained in the VPA.

Under the VPA, a volunteer of a nonprofit organization or governmental entity is immune from liability for harm caused by an act or omission of the volunteer on behalf of the organization or entity if: (1) the act or omission was within the scope of the volunteer’s responsibilities in the organization or entity; (2) if required, the volunteer was properly licensed, certified, or authorized by the appropriate state authorities for the activities or practice giving rise to the claim; (3) the harm was not caused by “willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or a conscious flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed by the volunteer,” and (4) the harm was not caused by the volunteer’s operation of a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft , or other vehicle for which the state requires the operator to possess a license or maintain insurance. The VPA defines a volunteer as “an individual performing services for a nonprofit organization or a governmental entity which does not receive compensation (other than reasonable reimbursement or allowance for expenses actually incurred); or any other thing of value in lieu of compensation, in excess of $500 per year…”

The VPA is helpful because it provides baseline legal protection amidst a wide variety of state laws. Nonetheless, because the VPA’s protections are not absolute, each MRC unit should consult with an attorney for a more detailed analysis of the law’s protections and limitations.

A number of health profession organizations as well as the US Congress are examining the issue of appropriate liability protection for health providers during public health emergencies.