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A. Requirements for Membership and Deployment Eligibility
All volunteers, regardless of professional background, must meet the following requirements for membership and to become eligible for deployment.
- Must be 18 years of age or older
- Must complete the online registration application through the Registry
Road to Readiness − Deployment Eligibility Requirements*:
The Road to Readiness (R2R) initiative was developed to help Maryland Responders complete the steps required for volunteer deployment. All Maryland Responders, regardless of professional background, must complete the R2R steps to be eligible for participation in Maryland Responds deployments and to be protected by state liability and workers’ compensation coverage during deployments. The R2R steps for volunteers are to:
- Register to volunteer through the Registry
- Complete all sections of the “Responder” profile
- Include information about professional license, if applicable
- Complete the “Maryland Responds MRC Orientation” course
- Digitally sign and submit the online “Liability Policy and Confidentiality Agreement Form”
- Submit a photo for Responder ID Badge
- Submit a shirt size for the Responder uniform
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org to let the State Program know all the steps on the R2R have been completed
For instructions on deployment eligibility requirements to distribute to volunteers, see “Road to Readiness Checklist Flier” (Appendix FF
*Exceptions may be made based on situational need during emergency response activations (See Chapter 7, Section G for more information). Please contact the State Program with any questions regarding what requirements must be completed for a specific activation or deployment of volunteers.
B. Registration Process Steps
The following is a summary outline of the steps a volunteer must take to register with MDRMRC and the actions Unit Administrators should take to screen and approve a new volunteer membership request. For more detailed information on the registration process, refer to the Volunteer Registry − Administrator Protocols
Step 1: Potential volunteer completes and submits their online application through the Registry.
Step 2: MDRMRC Unit Administrator screens new membership requests for selection.
- Registration Application: All prospective volunteers must register online through the Registry. Unit Administrators have the ability to register persons unable to use or access the site. Prior to submitting their registration applications, volunteers are asked to select one local MDRMRC Unit to be affiliated with based on residence. This selection will determine which Unit receives their completed application and membership request.
- Credential Verification: If the occupation and licensure information entered by the volunteer can be verified by the Registry, the system will automatically conduct a search to verify the volunteer’s credentials. Credential verification is discussed in more detail below.
- Emergency Credential Level (ECL) Assignment: Once credentials are verified, an ECL is automatically assigned. ECLs are discussed in greater detail below.
- Screen Registration Application: The Unit Administrator receives a “pending membership request” notification and screens the new volunteer registration application. To ensure the applicant selected the correct affiliation, open their pending volunteer profile and scroll down to the “Identity” section to verify residence. Screening and selection procedures are discussed in greater detail below.
- Accept or Mark Membership Request as Researching: After screening the new volunteers’ registration application, the Unit Administrator selects the appropriate membership status from the “Status” drop down menu.
- Accepted: Volunteer is part of and can view Unit details and receive Registry messages
- Pending: Administrator has not taken any action on volunteer’s request to join
- Rejected: The Administrator denied the responder’s request to be a member of the organization – this option should not be used, instead the Unit Administrator should contact a State administrator before rejecting a new volunteer
- Researching: Administrator is gathering information to determine if volunteer qualifies
Step 3: Volunteer registration application is accepted and volunteer receives information on additional steps they are required to take to be eligible for activation.
- Welcome Email: Unit Administrator sends the Unit’s welcome email to the new volunteer, which provides instructions on how to complete the R2R steps and any Unit specific information that the Unit Administrator wishes to share with the volunteer. Unit Administrators can use the general welcome email which is saved as a template in the Messages module of the Registry to create their own version of the email (message name “_Welcome Message for New Responders”). Unit specific welcome emails can also be saved as a template message in the Registry.
- Eligible for Training and Correspondence: Upon approval of application, volunteers become eligible for training programs and can receive messages that are sent through the Registry system.
Step 4: Volunteer completes additional requirements for becoming eligible for activation and deployment (R2R).
- Eligible for Activation and Deployment: Volunteers must complete the minimum requirements for becoming eligible for activation and deployment as outlined in Chapter 5 Section A.
- Unit Specific Eligibility Criteria: If applicable, additional requirements based on MDRMRC Unit housing organizational policies must be included in the MDRMRC Unit Volunteer Management Plan – Template. MDRMRC Units who are affiliated with LHDs should check with their legal and human resources departments to see if there are additional local policies or forms that may be necessary for volunteers to complete.
C. Credential Verification
Credential verification is the process of collecting information for evaluating and documenting the qualifications of licensed professionals including information about a person’s current license or degree; training or experience; and competence or certification. Below is a description of each credential verification method used by the Registry.
State Licensing Boards
Automatic license verification is built into the Registry for some health care occupations regulated by state licensing boards. Credential verification for the health care licenses that are not automatically verified by the Registry are conducted manually by the MDRMRC State Administrators when issuing ID badges. For a listing of Maryland state licensing boards and the method used for verifying licensure with each, see “License Verification Configurations Table” (Appendix P
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Pharmaceutical License Database
Medical professionals who dispense or prescribe controlled drugs must hold a DEA license. The DEA Pharmaceutical License Database is a federal database that is used to verify that a medical professional's pharmaceutical license is valid. A verified DEA license is required to reach Emergency Credential Level (ECL) 1 and 2 for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), dentists, physicians, physician assistants, psychologists, and veterinarians.
Office of Inspector General (OIG) List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE)
The OIG has the authority to exclude individuals and entities from federally funded health care programs due to a civil or criminal conviction in the federal or state court, or due to any adverse federal or state licensing actions. The OIG maintains a list of all currently excluded individuals and entities via the LEIE. The OIG LEIE is used to verify that a volunteer is not listed as excluded from participation in federally subsidized medical programs and response events. Volunteers who appear in the 'excluded individuals' database cannot be assigned an ECL, which is an indication that a more in-depth background check be conducted.
D. Emergency Credential Levels
Credential verifications are used by the Registry to determine a medical volunteer’s ECL. ECLs establish common personnel definitions that help organizations best utilize and manage volunteer personnel during an emergency or disaster. ECL assignment describes the medical volunteer’s ability to meet a nationally accepted minimum standard as defined by the ASPR. ASPR has developed a system of classifying and assigning health professionals registering with ESAR-VHP systems, like the Registry, into one of four credential levels in accordance with these standards. Level 1, 2, 3, or 4 is automatically assigned by the Registry based on the verified credentials for each medical volunteer registered. Most medical MDRMRC volunteers are assigned to ECL 3 as more in depth investigation is required to bring volunteers to an ECL 1 or 2. In general, ECLs are defined as:
- ECL 1: Verified health care license, clinically active in a hospital
- ECL 2: Verified health care license, clinically active
- ECL 3: Verified health care license
- ECL 4: Healthcare student or non-licensed retiree
ASPR guidelines determine requirements for each ECL and how volunteers assigned to each level may be used during a disaster. See ESAR-VHP Interim Technical and Policy Guidelines
which contains the required credentials and associated credential verification elements that apply to assigning ECLs.
E. Background Checks
Health care credential verifications are conducted through the various methods listed above. However, the Registry does not currently offer a method for conducting a background check. This functionality is scheduled to be added to the Registry by the end of June 2019 with the addition of the new Background Check module. This will enable State Administrators to initiate background checks and share the detailed online reports with Unit Administrators.
The MDRMRC State Program is currently working with a group of Unit Administrators to develop a method for determining which volunteers will require a background check. In general, a background check should be performed for all volunteers assigned to positions of special trust, responsibility or sensitive location, as well as for those who have direct contact with children, the elderly, or persons with disabilities.
In addition, certain health care occupations and facilities regulated by the MDH require background checks as part of the professional or facility license. This information will be considered when determining whether an additional background check through the Registry will be needed. The following is a list* of health care professions, regulated by the Maryland state licensing boards that require a criminal history background check:
- Registered Nurse
*This list is not all inclusive and will be updated when additional information is available.
F. Screening and Selection
When a potential volunteer submits their registration application through the Registry, the status of their volunteer profile will be labeled “Pending.” A weekly summary email notice is automatically sent to Unit Administrators indicating the number of pending membership requests they have in their Unit. The Unit Administrator can then view the pending volunteers profile and choose to accept that person into their Unit.
If a new volunteer selects your Unit, but does not meet its requirements (e.g., lives in a different county), Unit Administrators should notify the State Program via email of this volunteer. The State Program will then work with the volunteer to determine which Unit where the volunteer should be assigned. Please do not reject volunteer membership requests. The Unit Administrator can classify the volunteer profile to “Researching” status during the application review process if necessary. If you believe a volunteer poses a reason for concern and should not be accepted into your MDRMRC Unit, kindly contact mdresponds. email@example.com. Do not reject volunteers from your organization without conferring with State Administrators.
In most cases, the pending volunteer membership request should be accepted. The MDRMRC Unit Administrator should then send the newly accepted volunteer a welcome message which should always include a link or attachment for the R2R steps. To maintain the potential volunteer’s interest, Unit Administrators should send the welcome email as soon as possible, but no later than two weeks after receiving the membership request. State Administrators will accept volunteers who have been pending for longer than two weeks into Unit’s. The only criteria State Administrators look for to determine the correct Unit is residency.
G. Liability and Confidentiality Policies
Volunteers are required to sign and submit the online “Liability Policy and Confidentiality Agreement Form” (Appendix O
), to be eligible for deployment. Completion of the form fulfills the requirement for R2R Step 3.
The MDRMRC Liability Policy states that the state of Maryland will provide liability and worker’s compensation protection during an authorized MDRMRC activity. MDRMRC volunteers may receive protection if they perform authorized duties within their scope of practice. See Chapter 9
, Sections A and B for more information.
Volunteers may have access to confidential health information during MDRMRC deployments that involve direct patient care. As per Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations, volunteers must read and sign the MDRMRC Confidentiality Agreement; here, the volunteer agrees to protect the privacy of any patient health information with which they may come in contact.
Volunteers submit the completed Liability Policy and Confidentiality Agreement to the MDRMRC State Program via the online Google Form at https://goo.gl/forms/Iz9AMX7arw8p9cU13
. Upon receiving a completed form, State Administrators will verify that this step has been completed by adding it to the Responder profile under the “Training” tab and marking its verification status as “Success.”
H. Ready Responder Kits
The MDRMRC State Program issues Ready Responder kits to those that have completed all the steps on the R2R, (see Chapter 5 Section A
). The kits are sent out in batches every month. Kits include MDRMRC identification (ID) badge, uniform, field guides, first-aid kit, lanyard, and more.
MDRMRC Identification Badges
The MDRMRC State Program issues ID badges to volunteers that are designed for use during authorized events and activations to identify volunteers as members of the MDRMRC. Volunteers must have their ID badge on them at all times during deployment. The ID badges document the following: name, profession, ECL, type of volunteer, Unit name, and picture. For a sample, see “Responder ID badge − Example” (Appendix N
To obtain an ID badge, volunteers must submit a recent headshot and follow these requirements:
- Photo taken within the past six months
- Full face, front view
- Solid background
- No hats or headgear (other than for religious purposes) obscuring the hair or hairline
Volunteers can submit a photo for their ID badge by uploading it to their Responder profile as a certificate for the training course, “R2R Step 4: Photo for ID Badge.” If the volunteer is unable to upload their photo to their profile, they should contact State Administrators at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The State Program issues a polo shirt so volunteers can be identified MDRMRC members during authorized activities. Volunteers are encouraged, but not required, to wear their MDRMRC polo during deployments.
Volunteers can submit a shirt size by choosing the training option that corresponds with their size in the “Training” tab of their Responder profile. If the volunteer is unable to do this, they should contact State Administrators at email@example.com.
Volunteer Deployment Guide
The Volunteer Deployment Guide is a quick reference guide that will help volunteers prepare for deployment with the MDRMRC. This guide is intended to augment, not replace, training and preparation for deployment.
Responder Resource Guide
This guide is a disaster preparedness and basic first aid manual that volunteers can use to both to prepare for and respond to an emergency.