Tornado Deployment

June 1 was a lovely day in our part of the state until 5 p.m. Although the Upper Merrimack Valley encountered only a severe thunderstorm, reports emerged that a series of tornadoes were ripping across Western MA, especially in Hamden County. Responders in that area provided initial care for several days while assessing the damage.

The devastation caused by the tornadoes was hard for most of us to imagine.

Our own unit was not contacted during that first week. However, we promptly posted news of the event on our web site, with tips on keeping safe in weather emergencies. By June 6 we were asked to deploy members to help at two emergency shelters in the Springfield area.

The West Springfield shelter was opened in a dormitory that is typically used during the annual 'Big E' exposition. Teachers at local schools helped with meals. Residents stayed in bunk beds with mattresses.

Staffing was provided by multiple agencies for consecutive shifts throughout the month of June.

UMV MRC Director Sandy Collins reviewed the First Aid station during a site visit. Small children could be watched in front of this area, where signs were posted in multiple languages.

We followed up with our volunteers for their input, using both via e-mails and phone calls shortly after each person returned. In addition, we gathered after the deployment with all who could participate, to collect any last feedback as a group while showing our appreciation for their services.

Members received certificates to acknowledge their service, along with MRC note pads as tokens of appreciation.

We are truly grateful for each volunteer who provided care for the hundreds of displaced residents during their time of extreme need. Furthermore, we value the candid input from our members, which helps in after-action analysis of the response and how to make improvements for responding to any future disasters.

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