Volunteers needed in case of emergency

Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals are forming a new volunteer organization to provide aid during public health emergencies.

Snohomish County’s Medical Reserve Corps is part of a nationwide program aimed at coordinating care during emergencies such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks, said Christine Colmore of the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management.

The Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management is seeking volunteers for its new Medical Reserve Corps.

It’s looking for people with medical training, including doctors, nurses and support staff. Medical and nursing students also may join.

The Department of Emergency Management will have a meeting at 6:30 tonight at Providence Everett Medical Center’s Colby Campus, 1321 Colby Ave. in Everett.

During a health crisis “such as a flu epidemic or bioterrorism attack where we’d have to dispense medication quickly to massive amounts of people, we would then call on these volunteers to work alongside public health,” Colmore said.

The program was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. However, many health care workers who wanted to help had to be turned away because their credentials couldn’t be verified.

Volunteers in the Medical Reserve Corps will be screened and issued photo identification cards, Colmore said.

“By getting credentials ahead of time, it allows us to put them in the area where their skills are most needed,” she said. “During a disaster, we could put them to work right away.”

If a major earthquake were to hit Snohomish County, the volunteers could help at smaller triage clinics set up in communities or medical support shelters, Colmore said.

The Department of Emergency Management received a $50,000 grant to start the program and hopes to get at least 100 doctors, 100 nurses and 200 to 300 support staff to volunteer, Colmore said.

“We’re really trying to get more medical professionals involved,” she said.

Reporter Katherine Schiffner: 425-339-3436 or schiffner@heraldnet.com.

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