Six-Month Recap: January Through June 2013

Our unit kept up a brisk pace of activity throughout the first half of the year. Many thanks to our members for their participation! Click on a topic in the following table, or read the summaries below, for details.

Copkido Class Self-defense training
Readiness Ongoing emergency preparedness
UMV MRC Advisory Council Strategic planning
FEMA Pet Prep Grant Caring for pets in disaster
NACCHO Grants Receipt of new funding for our unit
Training Member education
Community Service Health initiatives for the public
Staff Activities Director and Coordinator at work

COPKIDO CLASS — Copkido allowed our local MRC members to train with response partners from fire departments and hospitals, as we learned skills with which to defuse an agitated patient safely. Within two weeks, one of the nurses shared that she'd had to apply those new skills during her work at a hospital!

Shawn Marando of Progressive Defense Systems (right) led his group of 10 Copkido instructors to provide hands-on training for 29 local responders.
Class began with self-defense concepts, including
situational awareness.
Students reviewed a
number of possible grips
and ways to break free.
Each demonstration was followed by ample
hands-on practice.
Simulations with multiple participants
took place inside a ring, for
better viewing and questions.
Students divided into small groups,
with close supervision to guide them
through the maneuvers.
Instructors and students, celebrating their hard-won skills.

READINESSThroughout the winter, numerous storms warranted the opening of the state's Emergency Operations Center. Responders across MA were contacted for their availability to help if needed.

Health departments, emergency managers, and other response partners carefully monitored the impact of severe weather on their communities. Integration with MRCs allowed host agents to compile lists of standby volunteers. Although the UMV MRC was not called out for service, two of our members deployed through other agencies to assist at emergency shelters near Cape Cod.

A scene from the blizzard in mid-February
2013 and its impact on a neighborhood in the
Upper Merrimack Valley. Communities in Southeastern
MA were hit much harder through multiple storms, where residents coped with frigid temperatures and power
outages. MRCs across MA were asked to stand by,
as those near hardest-hit areas were deployed.

The Director and Coordinator also ensured that our own members remained safe, by sending preparedness information and situation updates as appropriate. Links to reliable web sites allowed our volunteers to brush up on emergency precautions, encouraging them to look in on vulnerable neighbors who may need assistance.

UMV MRC ADVISORY COUNCIL — The Advisory Council continued its work behind the scenes on our unit's strategic planning. The Council seeks to identify opportunities with which to integrate the MRC through municipal groups and events in each of our seven UMV communities.

Our host agent -- the Westford Health Department -- provided statistics on unit activities for a community planning forum. This data was posted on the town web site. Council reps have provided similar MRC information for their annual town reports, as well as their town meetings.

In June we welcomed our newest Council member, Tom Arsenault, as the representative for Tyngsboro.

Upper Merrimack Valley Medical Reserve Corps -- Advisory Council Members for 2013

Brian Luttrell,

Lynne Wagner,

Rich Patterson, FF/EMT

René Allen, Admin.

Ray Barry,
Tom Arsenault,

Sandy Collins,

Nancy Burns,

FEMA PET PREP GRANT — Activities throughout this six-month grant included a media campaign with PSAs on cable TV, four educational events on disaster preparedness for the whole family, a full-scale exercise, and the distribution of shelter supply kits to each of our seven communities.

NACCHO GRANTS — We received funding from NACCHO (National Association of County and City Health Officials) through two grants. The first will support our operating expenses. The second is designated to train deployment teams for sheltering, and to educate area residents on preparedness.

TRAINING — Our volunteers participated in a cross-disciplinary Emergency Dispensing Site workshop, a New Member Orientation, and a half day of seminars on sheltering at Mass Medical Society headquarters. One of our members was a featured speaker at the MMS facilitated discussion on nursing perspectives at shelters.

Collins answers questions and
shares deployment concepts at a
New Member Orientation.
A UMV MRC volunteer offers nursing perspectives as a
panelist on sheltering.
Speakers at the MMS forum on inclusive sheltering represented
a range of disciplines: legal, pharmaceutical, behavioral,
government, veterinary, medical, and other response partners.

COMMUNITY SERVICE — MRC volunteers supported a unique fitness event, led by two-time Frisbee world freestyle champion Todd Brodeur. The event was part of the 'Let's Move Westford' campaign, co-sponsored by the Health Department, the UMV MRC, Lowell General Hospital, and the Healthy Kids Coalition. Participants of all ages showed that fitness is even more fun when the whole family gets involved.

Brodeur shows off his
supplies and the skills
to be shared at the event.
MRC volunteers helped with registration and provided
general event support.
Parents and their children had fun staying healthy together.
It's never too early
to practice good
health and fitness!

The UMV MRC had a presence at the annual fairs in three UMV communities. Members staffing a booth at Chelmsford's Volunteer Fair raised awareness of public health initiatives. Members at the annual Billerica Health and Wellness Fair provided a 'Let's Move' stage activity for children, screened visitors for hypertension, and offered MRC and preparedness materials.

Prospective volunteers learned
about the MRC's support of
public health and preparedness.
Chelmsford residents
discussed the meaning of numbers in a BP screening.
Billerica's well-publicized event drew about 800 local attendees.
Even the Canalagator, hard-working mascot for the Lowell Spinners, cares about keeping a healthy BP!
MRC volunteers shared information about the unit and its deployments.

Our volunteers provided similar coverage at Tewksbury's event the next week.

Two of several MRC volunteers staffing the booth paused before the start of the event to welcome attendees. Members displayed 72-hour emergency kits, shared MRC literature, and discussed the unit and its health initiatives throughout this busy event.
Let's Move! activities included certificates for those who attempted challenges in putting, as well as sit-ups and push-ups. Interested adults stopped by to monitor their vital signs.

Volunteers provided fire safety information to about 100 Boy Scouts who attended a series of training sessions in small groups at their annual Camporee.

Tewksbury's representative to our Advisory Council was on hand to provide support between demos. A UMV MRC member who volunteers on a local fire department collaborated with a Boy Scout leader for presentations. The trio demonstrating the use of various fire extinguishers to one of six groups of scouts that came to their skills station.

The primary focus was on fire safety
and prevention. Adults provided guidance on
what the scouts should do if a fire occurs.
The troop was acquiring skills toward
merit badges on emergency preparedness.

MRC members staffed the first aid station and promoted fitness at a regional Bike Rodeo.

Volunteers showcased
go-kits and preparedness.
Members staffed the first aid
station for the event.
Hundreds of children participated in exercises for bike skills and safety, encouraged by their family members as well as the bike rodeo organizers.
Although fitness is its own reward, children also received certificates and give-aways to encourage continued physical activity.

STAFF ACTIVITIES — Your Director and Coordinator served as evaluators in a statewide sheltering full-scale exercise at U. Mass Amherst. The information proved useful in completing our unit's own FSX in May.

Hundreds turned out for the FSX at U.Mass Amherst. Mock 'registration' sessions were held in the auditorium. Participants cycled through the animal care areas and
other sections of the emergency shelter to test the plans.

The staff participated in 'Whole Community' shelter training, and attended an interactive Risk Communications forum with 50 affiliates from local health organizations. A major benefit was the ability for care providers across the Upper Merrimack Valley to meet their counterparts who represent nursing homes, advocacy groups, and response agencies.

Fifty representatives from agencies across the UMV attended a Risk Communications forum.

The Coordinator participated in a sheltering Train-the-Trainer workshop, which used materials that were developed through the MA sheltering work group co-chaired by the UMV MRC Director. We will be offering these materials to our own members later this year.

Two half-day sheltering classes were offered to MRC leaders across the Bay State in June. The curriculum was developed by a collaborative work group. Participants can provide consistent training on shelter concepts to MRC members across MA.

The Director and Coordinator continue to attend Massachusetts and New England meetings and participate in work groups with our MRC counterparts.

There were lively discussions in a tabletop exercise
at the statewide meeting for leaders of MA MRC units. Most drew on recent experience with storm deployments at emergency shelters.
The New England MRC Coordinator displayed the award for an exemplary MRC leader on Cape Cod

The staff continues to provide monthly updates to our unit's MRC Profile on the national web site, and also compiled detailed statistics for a nationwide survey of all MRC units.

Check this web site over the summer for coming activities and new chances in which to participate in the unit!

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