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Building Your Volunteer Program: Lessons Learned from the Fairfax Medical Reserve Corps Donna M. Foster, MRC Coordinator Jesse R. Habourn, MRC Database.

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Presentation on theme: "Building Your Volunteer Program: Lessons Learned from the Fairfax Medical Reserve Corps Donna M. Foster, MRC Coordinator Jesse R. Habourn, MRC Database."— Presentation transcript:

1 Building Your Volunteer Program: Lessons Learned from the Fairfax Medical Reserve Corps Donna M. Foster, MRC Coordinator Jesse R. Habourn, MRC Database Manager

2 Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) in Fairfax County, VA Primary function: operate mass dispensing sites – Current membership: 3,100 Medical & non-medical volunteers 29% medical 71% non-medical Secondary functions – Community Health Partners: subset of MRC volunteers distribute health promotion/disease prevention information to public – “Interested in other volunteer opportunities?”

3 Fairfax MRC Planning All hazards approach using smallpox as framework Worst case scenario: – Multiple outbreaks – Mass vaccination of all 1.2 million Fairfax County residents within three to five days – Permits scaling down for alternative strategies or targeted events

4 Fundamentals of Fairfax MRC Response Plan Dispensing sites located at 24 high schools and George Mason University Requires 54 teams of app. 234 volunteers each Team will work 12 hour shifts for 3-5 days

5 Fundamentals of Fairfax MRC Response Plan cont’d Residents arrive at dispensing site via bus pick-up from: – Elementary and middle schools – High school bus stops – 4 satellite locations Residents with handicap parking stickers may drive to site if necessary Media to alert residents about the plan

6 Fairfax MRC Organization Incident Command System (ICS) – Clear chain of command – Easily plug in new volunteers/staff – National standard Joint partnership: MRC volunteer team, school system staff, Fairfax PD – Incident Coordinator of each share Unified Command

7 Mass Dispensing Site Staffing One MRC Team 1Incident Coordinator104 Site Assistant (min.) 1Safety Officer 2 Medical Directors 1Public Info. Officer (Media School) 2 NP/PA 4Administrative Asst. 41 Registered Nurse 1Volunteer Coordinator 4 Reg. Nurse Unit Leader 1Support Branch Director 6 Physician 1Sup. Branch Deputy Dir. 2 Pharmacist 10Interpreters (min.) 2 Pharmacy Technician 1ASL Interpreter 6 Public Health Staff 1Data Entry Unit Leader 6 Mental Health Professional 24Data Entry Specialists 6 Greeter (Counselor) 1Flow Control Unit Leader 6 Special Needs Asst. Total = 234 (min.)

8 Critical Success Factors Realization regarding the magnitude of the problem (Anthrax 2001, 2005 scare) Executive sponsorship: CAO and Health Officer/Director of jurisdiction support at outset is crucial; eventual endorsement from elected officials Buy-in from key stakeholders in emergency response (police, fire, schools, transportation, medical community)

9 Lessons Learned The Do’s Develop partnerships with community organizations Factor diverse and special needs populations into your plan; be ethnically, linguistically sensitive Dedicate staff resources necessary to develop emergency plan and program infrastructure

10 Lessons Learned The Do’s cont’d Tag onto existing contracts for reverse 911, text/voice alerting systems, etc. to develop your volunteer database (eliminates RFP bidding process) Utilize NIMS as an organizational concept for response plan Use physicians in medical roles, not as Incident Coordinators or other leadership positions Consider using mobile teams for senior and developmentally disabled populations

11 Lessons Learned The Do’s cont’d Develop Job Action Sheets (JAS): list of duties volunteer can expect to perform – Be as detailed as possible – describe every single duty – Create a JAS for each volunteer position in each unit (Nurse will have different duties in Unit A than in Unit B) – This is the core of training! Always explain that program is evolving and that changes may be made Practice your plan; adjust as necessary

12 Lessons Learned The Don’ts Don’t start recruiting until plan is in place Don’t start recruiting until system to manage volunteer information and communication is in place Don’t let too much time pass between initial volunteer sign-up and first communication Don’t promise what you can’t deliver

13 Fairfax MRC Alert Network Comprehensive online system manages volunteer contact info., communication, participation and program analysis Scaleable, fully customizable to adapt to changing program Created by Roam Secure, Inc.

14 Alerting Volunteers with MRCAN Text alerts to: Cell phones w/ text messaging Alpha-numeric pagers PDAs Initiate remote alerts from cells or pagers Include attachments

15 MRCAN Features Grouping Reporting Track: Volunteer contact info Trainings completed Replies to alerts Bounced messages or invalid devices System usage

16 Planned Improvements to MRCAN Increased alerting functionality – HTML-based messages – Automated notifications (application approval, training reminders, etc.) – Integrate interactive voice response to reply to alerts Virtual tour of dispensing site Generate team rosters and volunteer staffing plans on the fly GIS compatibility; GIS alerting

17 Planned Improvements to MRCAN Automate training sign-up process Logical, exclusion-based application process Library of information on biological agents, emergency preparedness, etc. Volunteer photo ID creation/management Online training capability

18 Advice on Alert Networks Encourage volunteers to manage own account Limit alerts to important announcements only. Limit cell/pager alerts to emergencies and annual tests only Provide wealth of tech. support material Have plan to deal with spam blockers and volunteers without accounts/cells, etc. Make website a place volunteers want to visit instead of a place they’re required to visit Install a backup server

19 Recruitment Strategies Use volunteers to recruit others Get your local politicians involved Capitalize on current events re: issue news releases (e.g. recent anthrax scare) Target non-essential public workers Direct mail to: Pharmacists Nurses Physicians Recently retired first responders, military personnel and jurisdiction employees Physicians recruit physicians; phone calls seem to work best

20 Training Provided All members receive: – General orientation – Role-specific training – Participate in annual exercise Leaders additionally receive: – Leadership/Incident Command – Hands on Practice – Leadership Meeting at Assigned Site Over 1/3 of volunteers have participated in training as of early April 2005 E-newsletter Fairfax MRC News

21 Thank you!


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