January to April 2014 Recap

Our unit was surprisingly busy throughout this harsh winter and into the early spring. Here's a summary of our activities from January through April 2014. Click an item in the table below to jump ahead, or read through the entire summary to learn about our activities throughout these four months.

AHA Classes / National Heart Month
Psychological First Aid Seminars
Volunteer Fair / Westford Town Meeting
Chelmsford Wellness Fair
Tewksbury Wellness Fair
Billerica Wellness Fair
EMS Event at LGH
Deployments / Reporting
Web / HOSA Updates
National Issues
Let's Move! Campaign
Across the Valley (UMV)
Statewide Sheltering

I. TRAINING -- We are proud of our members who continued their education through the unit.

Sandy Collins leads a segment on emergency
preparedness in our unit's third offering
of the sheltering class for MRC volunteers.

Sheltering -- UMV MRC volunteers participated in our
last two offerings this seaspon of the Introduction to Sheltering course. Medical participants received four hours of free continuing education credits. We are also continuing to recruit volunteers for strike teams -- Administrative, Medical, and Behavioral Health -- and preparing for a major drill on May 10.

AHA / ARC -- In honor of National Heart Month, we held American Heart Association classes on CPR/AED for both medical (Healthcare Professional) and non-medical (Heartsaver) members. For the first time, our unit was invited to help with an American Red Cross blood drive, which further supported cardiovascular care. We also developed a new curriculum to provide our debut Chokesaver course for food service employees who work in Westford schools and restaurants. Click here for details.

PFA -- We are pleased to share information about courses offered by the MA Department of Public Health, even when we don't provide the classes ourselves. Six members completed an all-day training at Lowell General Hospital on Psychological First Aid. These behavioral health skills can be crucial when comforting disaster victims. Additional classes are available over the coming months.

Medical and non-medical members prepare to greet area residents at an annual Volunteer Fair in Chelmsford.

II. FAIRS AND PUBLIC SERVICE -- The season of community fairs was in full swing by mid-March. Our members supported a robust Volunteer Fair that hosted 46 organizations and 250 participants, which was covered by cable TV. The Wellness Fair welcomed 30 vendors and over 200 visitors. UMV MRC staff also posted an information table at a Town Meeting of over 300 residents.

April began with major health fairs in two additional communities in our region, drawing over 700 area residents. Our volunteers screened 118 visitors for hypertension and promoted public health initiatives. Each event continues to raise awareness of the MRC while providing a public service. We also thank one of our RNs who stepped in on short notice to provide additional support for a shingles clinic, inoculating elderly residents in the host community. For details and photos regarding our unit's involvement in these events, click here.

III. PrepareAthon -- Our unit was proud to support this national initiative. Click here for the story.

IV. STAFF ACTIVITIES -- Your Director and Coordinator continued to advocate for public health initiatives through the UMV MRC. The Staff also kept up with new opportunities for members and general administrative issues.

Deployments - In one of the harshest winters on record, UMV MRC staff kept a close eye on the weather and participated in con-calls with multi-agency response partners, in case a deployment was needed.

Reporting - We continue to post monthly MRC Unit Profiles on the national web site, as well as sending quarterly reports to our statewide MRC coordinator. To see how our unit is described on the national MRC web site, including our most recent Profile updates, click here:


Web - We made major changes to our Latest News section of the home page, and hope you like what you see! Please let us know if you have any feedback.

The president of the HOSA group at Westford Academy (left) staffs the MRC exhibit with another youth member at a recent fair.

HOSA - Two local groups recently formed as part of a national youth organization (formerly the Health Occupation Students of America). There is now a HOSA chapter at Westford Academy and at Greater Lowell Technical High School. Your staff has met with the Westford group, and has already engaged its members in MRC activities.

In fact, we recently learned that TEN members of HOSA in Westford won a regional championship, in which they demonstrated their knowledge of health issues. The group will be competing at the national finals in Florida in June. Congratulations, HOSA students!

National - Your Director and Coordinator keep in touch with news at the national level by participating in monthly MRC Wellness Calls. This innovative approach to communications allows unit leaders from across the nation - including protectorates as far as Guam, Palau, and the U.S. Virgin Islands - to address topics of interest. In these days of budget cut-backs and travel restrictions, our network of MRCs continues to find creative and effective ways in which to interact. These calls began in November 2013, and continue to take place on the first Tuesday of the month.

Our unit is always on the lookout for great projects. We applied for a highly competitive Department of Health and Human Services grant, and welcome suggestions for grants and partnerships to pursue. We also provided photos of our members in action for a presentation on National Health Security, for ASPR (Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, a subset of DHHS).

Let's Move! - The UMV MRC partnered with a health department and a local hospital to offer yet another fitness event. The Hula Hoop Jam invited families to stay active with coaching from master trainers (http://wildkathoops.com). This free event involved 60 participants of all ages.

The Hula Hoop Jam was fun for all ages -- and great for the waistline, too!

Across the Valley - The quarterly meetings of our unit's UMV MRC Advisory Council began this year with two new members: Laurie Lotti, RN representing Lowell, and Patricia Wojtas, who is also a selectman in her town, representing Chelmsford. Your Director and Coordinator also participate in MRC work groups and disaster education seminars. UMV MRC staff provided unit statistics to the host agent -- the Town of Westford -- and continue to make our response data available for town reports across our region upon request.

Statewide MRC Sheltering and Response - Your staff members continue to learn from MRC counterparts in other units. In addition to keeping in touch about preparations for the Boston Marathon, your Director and Coordinator served as evaluators during a drill at U.Mass Amherst. The Coordinator visited a Preparedness Day sheltering event in Wayland. Click here for the full story with photos.


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