“It's better to send a text message to your loved ones in a crisis. When the telephone lines are busy, you can send a simple text message such as ‘I'm OK, where are you?' and it has a better chance of communication … leaving the phone lines open for emergency services.” Communications are a key component of the corps, Wagner said. The organization has more than 100 amateur HAM radio operators and 532 volunteers who speak a second language.
There are many free training opportunities for the corps. An orientation is available online.
Classroom training is scheduled by county coordinators. Training partners include the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing, Oklahoma Institute for Disaster and Emergency Medicine, Oklahoma Poison Control Center and the American Red Cross. A two-day volunteer workshop is held annually in either Oklahoma City or Tulsa. Training is funded by grants from the Oklahoma Health Department and U.S. Surgeon General's office.
The medical reserve corps was founded after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and the anthrax attacks that followed.
“These incidents clearly illustrated the need to have an organized way for medical professionals and other volunteers to respond to disasters,” Wagner said.
Reserve corps volunteers are involved in activities throughout the year, including emergency response training, immunization programs and blood drives.
To apply to become a volunteer, go to www.okmrc.org. There is a background check. Follow corps activities on Twitter @HealthyOklahoma or www.twitter.com/HealthyOklahoma.
For information about the corps, call Wagner at 271-0900 or 625-2956 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.