Jacobs: Volunteers Needed for Emergency Preparedness and Public Health Threats

National Public Health Week Recognized April 2-8, 2007

Nassau County Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) today reminded residents that, in recognition of this year’s National Public Health Week’s theme, “Preparedness and Public Health Threats,” the first response to any public health threat or disaster is a local response – whether the threat is an influenza epidemic, chemical spill or act of terrorism. Being prepared to handle a large-scale emergency of any kind is a challenge for all communities in the county. To assist in large-scale emergencies, two volunteer organizations have been created: The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). 

“These two volunteer groups are essential to the public health of our community in the event of an emergency situation,” Jacobs said. “First responders often mean the difference between life and death, and I strongly encourage those who are able to volunteer for these essential local organizations.”

Created in response to the outpouring of volunteer support in the days following September 11, 2001, the MRC is a network of community-based citizen volunteers established through the Nassau County Department of Health (NCDOH). MRC assists its community by being trained to mobilize quickly in order to minimize disability, death and emotional trauma. Practicing or retired medical professionals, such as doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants, veterinarians, students in the health professions, and others can volunteer for the Medical Reserve Corps. To date, Nassau County has approximately 360 MRC volunteers.

The goal of CERT is to train and maintain a cadre of volunteers from any walk of life to be ready for emergency deployment by the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management or the NCDOH. To date, there are over 500 CERT volunteers.

Both MRC and CERT enhance government and other disaster organizations during public health threats. The two volunteer units may interact depending on the type of incident. Training, exercises, recruitment and recognition by the Office of Emergency Management and Health Department are key parts to both volunteer groups. Both MRC and CERT need additional volunteers to assist Nassau County’s 1.3 million residents in case of a natural or man-made emergency.

If you would like more information or are interested in joining either of these very worthwhile volunteer groups, please call the Health Department for MRC information weekdays during business hours at 571-3231, or e-mail MRC at nassaucountymrc@nassaucountyny.gov. Contact the Office of Emergency Management for CERT at 573-0648, or e-mail CERT at oemcert@nassaucountyny.gov.