Mid-Year Report: Jan-June 2010

The first half of 2010 brought plenty of activity to our unit.

Our primary focus from the New Year into February was the completion of an extended influenza clinic season. A third of our members joined forces with our response partners in the campaign to protect residents against seasonal flu and the H1N1 virus. Read about our record-setting flu response for details.

Members volunteered hundreds
of hours to serve at clinics
across the region, protecting
area residents against influenza.
The final clinic to be
supported by our MRC
shows members who are
tired but happy, ending
the longest flu clinic
season since our
unit's inception in 2004!

No sooner did we administer the last flu shots when we had an emergency call-out. By February 27, an overnight rainstorm caused a power failure that left 1600 local households in the dark. Many of those affected were elderly or had chronic health conditions. The lack of electricity for more than a day, with no end in sight, posed a threat to their safety. Westford Emergency Management notified Sandy Collins (the town's Health Department Director, as well as our MRC Director) of the possible need to set up a shelter by Friday night.

Collins authorized a call-out, and members were asked to reply with availability. Within two hours, sufficient staffing was available to support the opening of a shelter that evening. Other volunteers made themselves available for service throughout the weekend. Meanwhile, power was gradually being restored, and families that had been without power were making other arrangements. When it became clear that a shelter would not be necessary, those who had signed up to help were promptly notified. Unit leaders offered sincere thanks to members for placing themselves 'on standby' for shelter deployment on short notice.

The launch of health fair season and the first Town Meetings kept members busy staffing our information booths. Many thanks to members who provided health information and blood pressure screenings in Billerica, Chelmsford, and Tewksbury, and those who stopped by our MRC display at Westford's annual Town Meeting. These activities raised awareness of the national program and our local unit's activities, while supporting public health initiatives.

Members pause for a group picture at the end of
a health fair, during the spring of 2010.
A wellness fair in a local high school encouraged students to include blood pressure screenings as ways to monitor their health.

The June 2010 newsletter was dedicated to our unit's volunteers as a special Member Appreciation Issue. Spring courses included American Heart Association CPR/AED classes for the layperson and for medical professionals, AHA First Aid, and our third Training Day on June 19. Other opportunities are being scheduled for the coming months. Remember to check this site periodically for coming events, which are posted throughout the year.

To represent you better, your unit leaders attended the annual Integrated Summit. The event was originally scheduled for Nashville, TN from May 12 to 16. However, due to historic flooding, this major forum was moved on short notice and held in a drier location from June 1 to 6. Kudos to the national MRC staff and response partners from the other Summit organizations, who simply transferred the event (along with 2500 attendees!) to a new venue across the country. The annual Summit draws disaster workers throughout the U.S. to share experiences that are vital for providing effective response.

We look forward to offering new opportunities, including staffing at upcoming community events. Have a terrific summer, and keep in touch!

Upper Merrimack Valley Medical Reserve Corps, 23 Depot Street, Westford, MA 01886