Dear UHS Service Providers:
The flooding that occurred in the Southern Tier in 2011 caused thousands of people in Broome County to be evacuated to shelters. Many of these people had special needs and required medical assistance. Without the support of United Health Services (UHS), Binghamton University and other local healthcare institutions, many would have struggled to sustain themselves in their shelter environment.
The Broome County Health Department (BCHD), utilizing its staff to deal with not only the environmental issues that ensued from this disaster, also had the task of overseeing and staffing two special needs shelters; one at Johnson City High School, and the other at the West Gym at Binghamton University (BU). As you recall, the two shelters eventually consolidated into one shelter at BU Events Center, which, at its peak, had 120 people with special needs.
With such limited personnel resources, it became apparent early in the response that volunteers would be needed quickly. Volunteers from the local Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) were notified and asked to respond. Additional MRC volunteers from around New York State were requested and deployed to aid in the response.
A total of 40 MRC members responded to serve in the special needs shelters. In this response, there was an advantage MRC member’s shared: they were properly credentialed, had been provided pre-deployment training and could be immediately notified of scheduling changes and reporting structures.
To improve response capabilities and to address liabilities, the BCHD is seeking to pre-credential those of you at UHS who maybe responding to future events. By completing credentialing requirements in advance, the next multi agency response will become functional in a more rapid fashion. This proactive effort will allow for greater organization between partner agencies to assure the safety of responders and disaster victims.
Pre-credentialing can be accomplished easily. Potential responders can be credentialed by signing up on the ServNY volunteer management system and thereby becoming an active member of the Broome County MRC. ServNY is a web-based registry that meets federal credentialing requirements allowing practitioners and individuals to register for a local (or statewide) response. (If you register to become a Broome County MRC member, you will not be required to respond to emergencies outside of the area unless you choose to). Registering before the need arises to respond is important, as credentials are verified upon registration and periodically thereafter. This helps to ensure that when our community needs extra hands, those hands are qualified to provide the appropriate care.
Participation in the MRC is voluntary and deployment is based on availability. MRC is sponsored locally by the Broome County Health Department, which provides volunteers with workers’ compensation if they are injured performing disaster service work and in addition, provides statutory immunity from liability. Retroactive registration into the program is not possible, so this makes it even more important for responders to sign up in advance. To access the ServNY registry go to www.gobroomecounty.com/ep/mrc and click on “Register for the MRC.”
All volunteers played an important role in providing the medical support that was needed to operate the special needs shelters. Their dedication and altruistic nature were exemplarily. Please join the Broome County MRC and help keep our community safe and secure during future emergencies.
Public Health Director
Broome County Health Department