January 25, 2011 > Fremont Medical Reserve Corps
Fremont Medical Reserve Corps
By Meenu Gupta
Photo Courtesy of Fremont Fire Department
The Fremont Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), sponsored by the Fremont Fire Department, is part of a commitment to the Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS). Focused on public health, MRC recruits active and retired medical professionals, students studying in a medical field, and other allied professionals. TCV had a conversation with Fremont Firefighter Chris Burgardt about MRC and its recent activities.
TCV: How would you describe what you do?
Chris Burgardt: My normal assignment is as a firefighter/paramedic on an engine company. I have a few special projects to which I'm currently assigned. The most significant project is coordinating the Fremont Medical Reserve Corps. It's a group of professionals with medical or related backgrounds who volunteer their time to provide medical and public health support to the Tri-City area. This is part of a network of Medical Reserve Corps units coordinated nationally by the Office of the Surgeon General. Last fall, over 100 of our members volunteered their time to vaccinate over 7000 people against the H1N influenza vaccine. It was the first time we activated our pandemic influenza emergency plan and turned out to be an incredible learning experience for everyone involved and a great recruitment opportunity for the MRC.
TCV: Please tell us more about the recent activities of MRC.
Chris Burgardt: Last year in fall, we supported a regional emergency exercise with MRC members deployed to four Bay Area counties; this provided our members with effective experience supporting the medical needs of large-scale, multiple day emergencies. We are also assisting the City of Fremont by vaccinating staff members; this will reinforce procedures we used last fall so we will continue to be prepared for another pandemic.
TCV: How is MRC involved with bone marrow donor registrations?
Chris Burgardt: Our newest project is to assist with bone marrow donor registrations. We have partnered with the Asian American Donor Program (www.aadp.org) to staff recruitment drives for potential donors. People die unnecessarily every day from diseases which can be treated with a bone marrow transplant. Family members are often used as donors, but when they are not available due to adoption, illness, or other reasons, patients must look to a national registry of possible donors. A good genetic match is required for the transplant to be successful. Unfortunately, many minority groups are underrepresented in the registry. The diverse population represented in Fremont and the Tri-City area in general provides an ideal area to recruit people from many of those underrepresented groups.
TCV: How can tri-city residents participate?
Chris Burgardt: Recruitment for the Fremont Medical Reserve Corps has come from a variety of sources. Ohlone College and Unitek College provide students and instructors to help staff our events; I find that a number of the students continue to participate after they leave school and get their licenses. We also have nurses and doctors from local hospitals and private practices who volunteer their time for the program. While licensed medical professionals are our primary need, we accept people whose backgrounds indicate the ability to support our operations in administration, logistics, or other related areas.
Interested people can register with the California Disaster Healthcare Volunteer program at www.healthcarevolunteers.ca.gov. If registrants request membership in the Fremont MRC, we will be notified and continue the screening process.