Fall 2005 Deployments

This fall our unit was involved in responses at the national, state, and local level.

When Hurricane Katrina roared through the gulf states, and the call rang out across the country for volunteers, the national MRC organization responded in force. Our own unit produced four members who served for at least two weeks in austere environments – overseeing emergency shelters, staffing field medical units, and serving wherever they could do the most good for the greatest number.

Joy Connorton, shown with our unit’s first prototype uniform and go-kit, served in LA from Sept. 11 to Oct. 10, then returned to the gulf on Oct. 24 for three more weeks of service.

Seven additional members applied for service to the gulf, rearranging their work schedules and lining up colleagues to replace them during their absence. These heroic measures allowed busy members to make themselves available during the slim windows of time when their employers could spare their absence. (With a backlog of thousands of applications, response agencies including the American Red Cross and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services eventually had to defer many talented volunteers who wanted to help.) We salute not only those members who were able to deploy in the gulf, but also those who endured the stress and uncertainty of awaiting deployment during the time they had carefully allocated for departure.

When 235 evacuees were transported to Otis Air Force Base at Camp Edwards on Cape Cod for temporary housing, members were able to cover shifts for one or two days at a time. Eleven UMV MRC members served at Otis, throughout the weeks of operation at the on-site health care facility. Some members staffed an inoculation clinic shortly after evacuees arrived. Others provided triage and administrative support, wrote prescriptions, and served as camp doctors and nurses.

Some of our members enjoyed their experience so much, they signed up for a second round of coverage! MRC units are formed specifically to provide disaster relief at the local level – within each member’s own community. Yet volunteers from the UMV MRC were eager to serve at Otis, knowing that this was beyond the scope of the regional response for which they’d originally joined the unit.

Click on the images below for a larger view.
Kathleen Dalton, RNP, and Dave Green, RN and Paramedic, were the first two UMV MRC members to serve as camp nurses at the health clinic.
The clinics for treating evacuees were in trailers near one of the barracks.

The UMV MRC Coordinator provided a day of administrative support and triage assistance, while physicians saw patients in the clinic.
Staff members from the MDPH support the Cape Cod MRC in managing manage patient records, while the camp doctor confers with a pharmacist.

An information center allows evacuees and volunteers to keep up with news of interest, and a van provides support for telephone communications.
Services for evacuees included meals provided by the Southern Baptists, and counseling through the Salvation Army.

A larger view of the common area shows bulletin board information for visitors (complete with a Halloween pumpkin!), and volunteers from several agencies preparing to help evacuees.
Evacuees at the clinic awaiting their shots.
Member Judy Dunigan RN and Sandy Collins UMV MRC Director with Cape Cod MRC staff after organizing the first immunization clinic for evacuees.

The deployments that resulted from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina were promptly followed by a series of regional influenza clinics and public health activities. Members served at seven flu clinics and a health fair across the Upper Merrimack Valley, greatly benefiting their own communities.

Upper Merrimack Valley Medical Reserve Corps, 55 Main Street, Westford, MA 01886