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    Chapter 2: MDRMRC Network

    Jump to Section:
    A. National MRC Network
    B. MDRMRC Network
    C. MDRMRC Network Resources


    A. National MRC Network

    The national MRC Program​ was formed following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Following these attacks, thousands of spontaneous volunteers, many of them health care workers, offered their services in support of the response and recovery operations, but because there was no way for emergency managers to verify these individual’s background, training, licenses, and credentials, many of them were not utilized. During the anthrax incidents of October and November 2001, it was realized that large numbers of health and medical volunteers would be needed to assist with dispensing of medication in the event of a large-scale bioterrorism incident or disease outbreak.
    In his January 2002 State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush called on all Americans to volunteer in their communities. Shortly thereafter, USA Freedom Corps and Citizen Corps were created. The MRC was created as a part of these organizations, housed in the Office of the Surgeon General in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The MRC Program was officially launched in July 2002. 

    In 2006, the Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Act authorized, in law, the MRC program. The national MRC Program functions as the national program office of the MRC and supports local efforts to establish, implement, and sustain MRC Units. In 2013, Congress reauthorized the Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Act, placing the MRC Program under the purview of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).

    ​B. MDRMRC Network

    MDH established the Maryland Health Care Professional Volunteer Corps in 2004. In 2006, the Maryland OP&R was formed and assumed management of the volunteer corps, renaming it the Maryland Professional Volunteer Corps (MPVC). In 2009, OP&R launched the state Emergency System for Advanced Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESAR-VHP) and incorporated the existing MPVC volunteer base into the system - the result was the MDRMRC, named “MD Responds.” In 2013, the MDRMRC transitioned to a coordinated state and local volunteer management model with the launch of the “Local MDRMRC Unit Initiative,” in which local health departments (LHDs) were invited to utilize the state ESAR-VHP, the Registry, for local volunteer management. The purpose of this initiative was to provide local jurisdictions with a mechanism for notifying, engaging, and managing MDRMRC volunteers in their jurisdiction. In 2014, the MDRMRC State Program established the MDRMRC Network to better coordinate statewide efforts to support MDRMRC Units in the state. In 2015, the program rebranded and officially became the “Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps.” 

    Vision: The vision of the MDRMRC is a strong and collaborative network of MRC Units in every local jurisdiction in Maryland that consist of dedicated volunteers who build resilient communities and reduce disaster risks for a prepared Maryland.
    Mission: The mission of the MDRMRC is to establish a statewide volunteer network of medical and public health professionals which is integrated into established community emergency systems to facilitate a coordinated approach to volunteer management.
    Goal: Enhance Maryland’s emergency preparedness and response capabilities by augmenting local- and state-level public health and medical services with a source of pre-identified, credentialed, and trained volunteers. 

    The MDRMRC State Program is responsible for the development of a statewide system of MDRMRC Units to facilitate a coordinated approach to volunteer management. Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Capabilities​, volunteer management is the ability to: 
    1. Recruit, coordinate, and train volunteers 
    2. Notify, organize, assemble, and deploy volunteers
    3. Conduct or support volunteer safety and health monitoring and surveillance
    4. Demobilize volunteers
    Figure 1: MDRMRC Network

    Housed within MDH OP&R, the MDRMRC State Program aims to support MDRMRC Units in each of these functional areas by providing resources, guidance, and technical assistance to meet local needs, build capacity, and strengthen response capabilities. 

    As shown in Figure 1, the MDRMRC Network consists of the MDRMRC State Program, local MDRMRC Units, MDRMRC Response Teams, an Advisory Council, and MDRMRC volunteers. 

    For a contact list of all primary and backup Unit Administrators for the local MDRMRC Units, visit our website​.

    Local MDRMRC Units

    In September 2013, the “Local Maryland Responds Unit Initiative” was launched to encourage inclusion of the MDRMRC in local- and state-level public health, preparedness, and response activities. Continuing efforts to support the integration of local MDRMRC Units into both public health and emergency response activities further advances a unified and systematic approach to improve the health, safety and resilience of local communities and the state. 

    MDRMRC Units are an extension of the MDRMRC State Program. Local MDRMRC Units are housed within the 24 LHDs in Maryland. The Unit Administrators work in conjunction with the State Administrators to manage the day-to-day operations of the local MDRMRC Units. This includes tasks, such as maintaining ongoing contact with current volunteers, welcoming new volunteers, arranging local training and exercise opportunities, and tracking volunteer data in the Registry. 

    MDRMRC Response Teams

    The MDRMRC Response Teams are state-level groups designed to prepare volunteers of a similar professional background or training to fill a specific response function in support of local, state, or federal authorities in the event of a public health emergency. There are currently three MDRMRC Response Teams: Animal Emergency Response Team (AERT), Emergency Preparedness Task Force (EPTF), and the Radiation Response Team (RRT).​

    Animal Emergency Response Team (AERT)

    The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) is the state agency responsible for animals in emergencies in Maryland. Animal emergencies that MDA responds to include:
    • Animal disease outbreaks
    • Emergency animal evacuation 
    • Emergency animal sheltering 
    • Animal loss from natural or man-made disasters

    To assist in responding to emergencies, in 2018 the MDA Animal Health Section requested support from the MDRMRC State Program to recruit animal health professionals to be available during emergencies. Members of the Maryland AERT can assist in responding to various emergencies involving animals. Members may assist with animal care and treatment, evacuation, vaccination, specimen collection, decontamination, euthanasia, necropsy, collecting epidemiological information, supervisory, or office support. The AERT can be activated as a whole by the MDRMRC State Program; however, individual members may also be activated by the local jurisdiction in which they are registered as a volunteer.

    Emergency Preparedness Task Force (EPTF)​

    The EPTF is a state-level team, composed of pharmacists, pharmacist students, and pharmacy technicians, created in collaboration with the Maryland Board of Pharmacy. This team seeks to recruit and organize interested pharmacy personnel and train them to assist the state during an emergency. The team’s primary area of focus is to provide subject matter expertise as well as staffing during Maryland emergencies requiring the distribution of Medical Countermeasures (MCM) such as antibiotics and vaccines to local partners. For more information, visit https://health.maryland.gov/pharmacy/Pages/emergency-preparedness-information.aspx

    Radiation Response Team (RRT)​

    The MDRMRC State Program and public health partners in Maryland’s public health and medical Region III have joined forces to develop a RRT. This team will be comprised of volunteers prepared to assist local health partners with filling vital staff roles within a Community Reception Center (CRC) during a radiation response. This team will be managed by the MDRMRC State Program. Region III Unit Administrators will have the ability to call upon the MDRMRC State Program to activate this team of volunteers during a radiation emergency that may impact the population of Maryland. RRT members will be trained to provide support during a local- or state-level radiation incident that requires the opening of CRCs. 

    MDRMRC Volunteers

    MDRMRC volunteers include medical and public health professionals, such as physicians, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, dentists, veterinarians, and epidemiologists. Many other non-medical community members also support the MDRMRC, such as interpreters, chaplains, office workers, and legal advisors. ​

    Advisory Council

    Although the MDRMRC State Program and local MDRMRC Units are responsible for the day-to-day management of volunteers, many activities may benefit from the involvement of individuals from the broader community. Thus the MDRMRC State Program brings partners to the table through the formation of the MDRMRC Advisory Council that engages state, local, and community response partners and representatives from our target audiences. Among other tasks, the Advisory Council evaluates ideas and offers suggestions for running broader MDRMRC activities. 

    Volunteers are an integral part of the Council, providing unique perspective and ideas. Participating in the development of the MDRMRC encourages Advisory Council members to see the long-term mission of the MDRMRC. Advisory Council members also carry the MDRMRC’s message to their peers and communities thereby strengthening the MDRMRC’s presence throughout Maryland.

    ​C. MDRMRC Network Resources

    There are several advantages to being part of the MDRMRC Network, such as access to volunteer profiles through the Registry, Unit activity promotion by the MDRMRC State Program, access to the MDRMRC online training platform, and opportunities to share best practices and upcoming events through the MDRMRC newsletter and social media pages. ​

    ​Maryland Responds Volunteer Registry

    Each state is required by CDC’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness and ASPR’s Health Care Preparedness cooperative agreements to establish and maintain a state-based ESAR-VHP. The ESAR-VHP program is a federal program created to support states and territories in establishing standardized volunteer registration programs for disasters, public health incidents, and medical emergencies. For additional information, see “Integration of the MRC and ESAR-VHP” (Appendix B). Maryland’s ESAR-VHP is called the Maryland Responds Volunteer Registry (the Registry) and can be found at https://mdresponds.health.maryland.gov
    The MDRMRC State Program is responsible for administering and maintaining the Registry, and shares access to this system with MDRMRC Unit Administrators (see Chapter 3​ for more information on accessing the Registry). The State Administrators provide Unit Administrators with training and technical assistance for utilizing the Registry, as needed. 

    MDRMRC Network Website

    The MDRMRC State Program administers and maintains the MDRMRC Network website found at: https://health.maryland.gov/mdr/. The website provides general information about the MDRMRC Network for both prospective and current volunteers. For suggestions or comments about the website, email mdresponds.health@maryland.gov. 

    Below is a summary of the information contained on each page of the website. 
    • The Home page contains links to important information regarding the MDRMRC Program Network, a link to the MDRMRC Facebook page, and instructions on how to register with the program 
    • The Volunteer FAQ page addresses questions commonly asked about the MDRMRC
    • The Training page lists both required trainings and recommended training courses 
    • The Local Unit Contacts page provides contact information for the local MDRMRC Units
    • The News ​page offers MDRMRC program updates, relevant news articles and resources, and links to our current and archived newsletters

    MDRMRC Units are encouraged to post the MDRMRC website link to their in-house website, if applicable. For sample website posts, see the Maryland Responds MRC Identity Toolkit


    Administered by the MDRMRC State Program, MDResponds.MyiCourse.com is the MDRMRC Network’s online training platform. The purpose of the site is to provide volunteers with access to online training courses that are intended to prepare them for local- and state-level deployments. The website is available 24/7 and gives volunteers the flexibility of completing trainings at their pace and leisure. MDRMRC Units are encouraged to upload Unit-specific training courses to this site by contacting mdresponds.health@maryland.gov. See Chapter 6​, Section D for additional information. 

    MDRMRC Network Newsletter - The Pulse

    The MDRMRC State Program publishes a quarterly volunteer newsletter containing emergency preparedness news, highlights from the field, volunteer spotlights, upcoming trainings, and other relevant information. The newsletter is distributed to all registered volunteers by email and is also posted on the MDRMRC website​ and Facebook page

    Unit Administrators are encouraged to submit articles or other content for inclusion in the newsletter. The “Volunteer Spotlight” and “Highlights from the Field” sections in particular are great avenues for Unit Administrators to share stories and best practices from their jurisdiction or volunteers. Email reminders with submission guidelines are sent to all Unit Administrators prior to development of each quarter’s newsletter. In general, please follow these guidelines when submitting stories and photos for consideration:
    • Include contact information (e-mail and telephone number) for follow-up
    • If photos are included, they should be high-resolution JPEG attachments
      • A signed “MDH Media Consent Release Form” (Appendix C​) is required if the photo shows a volunteer’s face
      • Photo submissions should also include a caption or description of the event 
    • Please anticipate that your article may be revised and may require your review for final approval
    • Email all content to mdresponds.health@maryland.gov  

    Social Media

    The MDRMRC State Programs maintains a Facebook page found at: https://www.facebook.com/MDResponds. Posting engaging content and information increases interactions with volunteers. The goal of the MDRMRC Facebook page is to engage current volunteers and recruit new volunteers through social networks. The MDRMRC Facebook page is a forum to communicate a range of information to volunteers, for volunteers to interact with other volunteers, to receive interest or feedback about the program via Facebook messaging, and for outreach. 

    In addition, the MDRMRC State Program posts training opportunities, weather alerts, and other preparedness information. Occasionally, the MDRMRC shares or re-posts pertinent information to volunteers from partner websites (e.g., LHDs, OP&R, FEMA, etc.). The information posted by the MDRMRC on Facebook is frequently seen and shared by volunteers with their social network. This in turn promotes both general outreach and community education. 

    Unit Administrators are encouraged to contribute articles, stories, and best practices to highlight their Unit’s activities on the MDRMRC Facebook page, as well as to share the MDRMRC Facebook with their Unit’s volunteers. To submit content, pictures or other media to the MDRMRC Facebook page, email submissions to mdresponds.health@maryland.gov. 

    MDRMRC Identity Toolkit

    This toolkit serves as a resource to help promote and build awareness of the MDRMRC. It provides the information necessary for local MDRMRC Units to effectively communicate their roles and functions in the community. It also will help reinforce a consistent image and message about the MRC, both state- and nationwide. The Identity Toolkit includes the following types of information: 
    • Standard terminology
    • Key messages
    • Social media – tips for engagement with sample language
    • Website text – sample text to promote MDRMRC on your website
    • Resource catalog − materials available to MDRMRC Units to support recruitment and promotional activities