Friday, July 20 , 2018, 4:56 pm | Fair 74º

 
 
 

Medical Reserve Corps Ready To Respond In Santa Barbara County Emergencies

Volunteer group unites locals with medical backgrounds who help out with evacuations, safety drills, vaccination clinics and more

The Medical Reserve Corps responded during the recent H1N1 virus crisis by holding mass vaccination clinics to prevent Santa Barbara County residents from the swine flu outbreak. The Medical Reserve Corps trains to respond to emergencies. Click to view larger
The Medical Reserve Corps responded during the recent H1N1 virus crisis by holding mass vaccination clinics to prevent Santa Barbara County residents from the swine flu outbreak. The Medical Reserve Corps trains to respond to emergencies. (Medical Reserve Corps photo)

In case of disaster, a quiet corps of medical professionals is prepared to respond to the community’s health needs.

Fires, earthquakes or other disasters will bring out volunteers with the Santa Barbara County Medical Reserve Corps.

        |  Emergency Preparedness 2017  |  Complete Series Index  |

“We are a group of mainly medical volunteers, although there are some nonmedical as well, who can answer the call in the event of a disaster in the county of Santa Barbara,” Ric Hovsepian, coordinator of the Medical Reserve Corps, told Noozhawk.

For instance, flooding earlier this year prompted a call for Medical Reserve Corps nurses to help after a large number of senior citizens were displaced.

Membership includes physicians, paramedics, nurses, emergency medical technicians, pharmacists, dentists, acupuncturists and veterinarians. Others are social workers, chaplains and people familiar with handling logistics such as trailers and supplies.

“The Medical Reserve Corps is really our backup medical response workers in a disaster,” noted Jan Koegler, manager of the county Public Health Department’s emergency preparedness program and herself a Reserve Corps member.

Corps members staffed the medical shelter during the 2009 Jesusita Fire evacuation to help those needing a higher level of care than was available at the American Red Cross shelter.

After a residential hotel fire in Santa Maria, many Medical Reserve Corps members responded in their own vehicles to assist evacuees for no pay.

“The goal is to assist the community when there isn’t a disaster and to be ready to respond when there is a disaster,” Koegler added.

Regular drills help the Reserve Corps hone its response, with some exercises involving real-world situations, such as massive flu-vaccine clinics held most years in various parts of the county for thousands of residents.

“We want to make sure we’re ready if there’s an earthquake and a nursing home needs to be evacuated, or people at home need nursing care but there’s either no room at the hospital or they don’t need to be in the hospital, that we’re ready for them,” she added.

The Medical Reserves Corps unites people with medical backgrounds to respond during emergencies in Santa Barbara County. Click to view larger
The Medical Reserves Corps unites people with medical backgrounds to respond during emergencies in Santa Barbara County. (Medical Reserve Corps photo)

In the months following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush created the Medical Reserve Corps program with programs now located in most counties throughout the country.

Santa Barbara County’s corps currently has 57 members, and volunteers are welcome.

During nonemergencies, Medical Reserve Corps members can be found spreading public health awareness or operating first aid stations at big community events, such as Deltopia and Halloween in Isla Vista, and Summer Solstice and Old Spanish Days-Fiesta in Santa Barbara.

“These are really community-minded volunteers,” Koegler said. “They’re a great group.”

It’s not unusual for volunteers to work a long shift at their full-time jobs yet still make time for monthly training, she said.

Members meet the second Thursday of each month for training, with lectures aimed at improving skills important for the Medical Reserve Corps. Recent topics ranged from weapons of mass destruction to triage skills to incident command system procedures to psychological first aid.

Starting in May, Medical Reserve Corps members will demonstrate hands-only CPR at State and Cota streets during the downtown Santa Barbara Farmers Market on Tuesdays.

“We are literally soliciting the community members who walk by to learn hands-only CPR,” Hovsepian said. “It’s awesome. We get many thanks of appreciation for us being there.

“We want the community members to be aware and not to be afraid of assisting someone who might be in cardiac arrest.”

To join the Medical Reserve Corps, email [email protected], or click here for more information about the organization.

“We provide a great opportunity for the community to be a part of disaster preparedness for medical needs,” Koegler said.

        |  Emergency Preparedness 2017  |  Complete Series Index  |

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.