Mid-Year Update: April to August 2011

The pace of our activities has ramped up steadily throughout the season.

TORNADO DISASTER - One of our most significant events this year was the deployment of ten members to staff emergency shelters in Western MA during June. Hundreds of residents in the Springfield area had been left homeless, after a series of tornadoes ripped through their communities, leaving devastation in their wake. MRCs across the state were urged to send volunteers to care for displaced residents at the shelters. Our members were among many responders who filled numerous shifts around the clock.

Volunteers from our unit who served in the first week of our response reported to a shelter in
West Springfield, in a dormitory on the fairgrounds of the annual 'Big E' exposition.

Your staff visited the two facilities where our volunteers provided care, to assess the type of experiences our members were encountering. The feedback we receive from all of our responders is vital for contributing to a MA MRC after-action report. We applaud those dedicated members who offered their time and skills to help others throughout this desperate situation.

Six of the ten volunteers who provided care at shelters in Western MA joined UMV MRC staff to provide their insights at a debriefing event in July, receiving our sincere appreciation for their service.

LIABILITY BILL - An ongoing initiative on behalf of MRCs across MA is the renewed effort to promote liability bill S1155. Your Director and Coordinator attended a special legislative session at the State House in Boston, where Sandy Collins and four other MRC advocates testified on behalf of the bill. The intent is to boost protections for MRC members in the Bay State. If you would like to play a role in the passage of this crucial legislation, please review the proposed bill and send your own letter of support, while urging your local legislator to promote the bill.

HEAT DEPLOYMENT - A succession of days with high humidity and triple-digit temperatures prompted a call-out in July to ensure that elderly residents in the area were safe.

Two of our volunteers promptly reported to the Cameron Senior Center in Westford to make wellness calls. Other members remained on standby as needed, or served other organizations in a related capacity.

TRAINING - Another major event was our fourth Training Day. See the updated article for a recap. If there are topics you would like us to offer among our coming events, or speakers you would recommend, kindly call or send e-mail to let us know!

LEADERSHIP - There are some new faces on the UMV MRC Advisory Council, which welcomed its latest addition - a representative for Lowell - at the June 6 meeting. Your towns are now supported by these leaders:

Brian Luttrell
Sue Rosa
Rich Patterson
Deputy Fire Chief
René Allen
Ray Barry
Linda McCarthy
Sandy Collins
Nancy Burns

DOCUMENTS - The Advisory Council recommended that we post our unit's latest Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and orientation handout (MRC 101), especially for those who joined many years ago and would like to review the latest guidelines. Members should have received their Septembers Newsletter by now. We are also working on our first Volunteer Handbook, which is currently undergoing review.

EVENTS - On top of our usual Community Service activities, we launched our unit's support of the national "Let's Move!" initiative. We also engaged a UMV MRC pharmacist at one of the local sites on April 30 where 'Prescription Drug Take-Back Day' was held.

Members were pleased to oversee activities at health fairs that encouraged family fitness, including a sit-up challenge.
One of our pharmacists supported an event that allowed residents to turn in medications that they no longer needed.

SUMMIT - To obtain best practices, your staff joined over 3000 response partners and MRC leaders from across the U.S. at the annual Integrated Summit. Once again our unit received national recognition, as we were awarded MRC Picture of the Year!

The winning picture shows one of our ten members volunteering at a veterinarian's office, in support of Pet Preparedness on the first Statewide Microchip Day in MA last September.
We were honored to be one of two units from Massachusetts to receive a national award at this year's Integrated Summit.

We hope to see you at one of our coming events. Enjoy the rest of the summer, and keep in touch!

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