September 11, 2001 was when the need for a group like the Medical Reserve Corps was first realized. With the terrorist attacks came floods of volunteers. Who had time to check credentials to make sure those offering help really authorized, and who had the time to do that in a crisis?
Now, the Medical Reserve Corps validates credentials during large-scale disasters or public health emergencies, along with assisting nurses and doctors on-scene of any such events.
In Aug. 2012, 22 of these MRC volunteers assisted in giving 540 vaccinations in five days to anyone at risk of contracting Hepatitis A, after a local restaurant employee tested positive for the disease.
In Jan. 2013, a student on the Idaho State University campus tested positive for Tuberculosis, causing 11 volunteers to help Southeast Idaho District Health conduct skin tests.
"We learn a lot as we see disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy," said Denise O'Farrell, program director. "There's a lot of lessons learned that filter down to us."
The Southeast Idaho MRC has over 250 volunteers, made up of the following demographics: 112 registered nurses, 31 licensed practical nurses, 19 doctors/physician assistants, 29 pharmacists, 31 medical support staff, 19 non-medical support staff and 13 mental health volunteers.