Six-Month Recap: July Through December 2013

Many thanks to our members who were so active with our busy unit throughout the second half of the year.

Big news: Our unit reached two major milestones this season:

1. September marked ten years since our unit was awarded one of the first national demonstration grants that authorized us to operate as a new MRC unit! Look how far we've come over the past decade.

2. We are also proud to announce that we have recently attained 501-C3 status as a volunteer organization.

Click on a topic in the following table, or read the summaries below, for details about our news and activities.

CPR and First Aid Trained members and municipal employees
Fairs and Community Service Promoted health initiatives across the region
Member Appreciation Focused on new and current members
Emergency Shelter Education Shelter grant and training opportunities
Flu Clinics Annual support of disease prevention
501-C3 Status Benefits from NMRCA membership
Winter Advisories Encouraging preparedness for seasonal hazards
Staff Activities and Unit News Progress on behalf of the UMV MRC

CPR AND FIRST AID — One of our first activities in July 2013 was to prepare for CPR classes. Instructors from our unit were invited to teach Heartsaver CPR/AED to groups of municipal employees in our host agent's community. The next month, we offered the same training to our own members. Each class resulted in two-year certification in CPR and AED from the American Heart Association. Click here for photos.

For the first time, our MRC was also invited to teach a non-certification module on First Aid to two groups of Teacher Assistants in the Westford School system. Given our mutual concern for the health of students and their families, everyone benefits from this type of partnership.

Two classes of Teacher Assistants reviewed skills for medical emergencies as part of their Professional Development Day. They practiced the safe removal of gloves after providing care, and tried hands-only CPR. They also experienced the speed with which a thermal blanket can warm an injured patient, reducing the effects of shock and hypothermia.
Plans for medical emergencies in schools include knowing the location of AEDs and how to use them, protocols for contacing the school nurse and calling 9-1-1, and having access to an appropriate first aid kit.

FAIRS AND COMMUNITY SERVICEThis season our volunteers supported numerous regional events, which were attended by more than thirty thousand area residents. See our members in action at a wide variety of events by clicking this web page. Be sure to ask any interested friends if they could see themselves helping at these types of activities over the coming year!

MEMBER APPRECIATION — Two events focused on our dedicated volunteers. Our Member Appreciation Dinner acknowledged September as national Preparedness Month, by thanking those who had been active in the unit over the past year. The festivities honored our host for the upcoming Training Day, and two members who shared what they had learned when serving in recent disasters that occurred outside of our region.

Most of the attendees remained for a group photo as festivities concluded.
Enjoy the cake, members!

The guest list included not only those who had served at an event or deployment, but also those who had placed themselves on standby for a disaster. Even if a call-out does not occur, it is still important to recognize those who make themselves available in case a deployment request is activated. Click here for additional photos from the event.

There were two opportunities to welcome new members into the unit. While most of the attendees at New Member Orientations in August and December had just joined, a few had been on our roster for a while and hadn't yet completed their official orientation. This event provided all participants with the information and ID required to become fully deployable in the unit.

This group in August, and another in December, attended New Member Orientations to learn about UMV MRC protocols, receive their ID badges and polo shirts, and get better acquainted with the staff.

If you know anyone who may be interested in joining the MRC, or who would simply like to learn more about our unit and consider a partnership, please encourage them to contact us!



(Westford, MA 01886)
Sandy Collins, RN
Town Hall
55 Main Street
Nancy Burns, EMT-B

Millennium School
23 Depot Street

EMERGENCY SHELTER EDUCATION — We are carrying out a $7000 grant that was awarded by NACCHO (National Association of County and City Health Officials) to train deployment teams for sheltering, and to educate area residents on preparedness. See the separate article on our progress. We urge all interested members to participate in this initiative!

FLU CLINICS — One of our signature events is to support annual flu and pneumonia clinics, when invited to do so from public health departments across the region. Click here for a recap of our involvement at several clinics across the Upper Merrimack Valley throughout last autumn.

501-C3 STATUS — We are pleased to announce that our unit has officially joined the National Medical Reserve Corps Association. A primary benefit is that we can now accept contributions as a 501-C3 organization. This means most corporations can donate toward our initiatives, and even match the contributions of their employees. There are also benefits for individual MRC members. See the Latest News item on how to contribute.

WINTER ADVISORIES — Massachusetts is subject to extreme temperature changes on short notice. A prime example happened on New Year's Day 2014. Our response partners monitored a pending storm and an 'arctic vortex' over the following week, both of which put vulnerable residents at risk. The next week, there was even an earthquake in the New Bedford area, measuring 1.9 on the Richter Scale!

Clearly, weather emergencies can be unpredictable. It is in everyone's best interest to take precautions. Visit the following resources to become better prepared throughout the season.

Cold Weather
Winter Weather Tips
Winter Disasters

STAFF ACTIVITIES AND UNIT NEWS — The UMV MRC staff created a new Volunteer Handbook, which was distributed to members at both New Member Orientations last fall. Our plan is to gather feedback and make revisions as needed. Our non-competitive grant allocates funding to print copies of the final document for our members. Please contact the staff if you'd like a copy to review.

Our October 2013 Newsletter celebrated the tenth year of our existence as an MRC unit. In addition to providing a recap of activities over the past year, the newsletter included sign-up forms to register for the next Training Day. Click here to see the newsletter and share our progress with others.

The UMV MRC Director has continued to integrate the unit into opportunities that she encounters, through her roles as Director of Health Care Services for the Town of Westford, involvement on the UMV Public Health Coalition, and numerous professional organizations such as the MA MRC Steering Committee.

Beyond managing daily operations and events, the UMV MRC Coordinator follows up on opportunities to draw in new members, encourage existing volunteers, and offer new versions of training and activities.

Both staff members participate in quarterly MA MRC meetings, share ideas for the region with the UMV MRC Advisory Council, and collaborate on writing grants. Changes in government policies and funding brought an end to the annual MRC Summits. However, the national office has found creative ways of keeping unit leaders engaged. Thus your staff participates in monthly MRC Wellness Check webinars, keeps up with national MRC communications, and stays in regular contact with counterparts in MA and across New England.

State Rep James Arciero with UMV MRC Staff at a recent event.

Finally, MRC leaders across MA started the New Year with uplifting messages from our state coordinator and the new MDPH Commissioner, applauding the fine work of units across the state. Read a subset here.

Please accept our best wishes for 2014. Stay healthy!

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