Citizens invited to help prepare for emergencies

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Open House on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 6-7:30 p.m. at the Bullitt County Health Department

By Alex Wimsatt

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - In the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush announced a new initiative to engage local volunteers to strengthen public health, emergency response and community resiliency.

As this year marks the 10th anniversary of the Medical Reserve Corps, Bullitt County Health Department preparedness Coordinator Don Renn hopes to see a more active, vibrant and engaged MRC chapter in Bullitt County and he's inviting everyone with a desire to serve to get onboard. 

Tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 11, the Bullitt County Health Department will host an open house for folks to see what the Medical Reserve Corps is all about. 

As Renn explained Bullitt County's MRC is just one of the hundreds of community-based organizations that share the same goal: to prepare for and respond to emergencies and promote healthy living. 

"Basically we're the volunteer arm of the health department," Renn explained, adding that in addition to assisting with local health and health education initiatives, MRC volunteers are called to help out with disaster relief efforts across the nation. 

In a nut shell, volunteers supplement existing emergency and public health resources and they include medical and public health professionals such as physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, veterinarians, and epidemiologists. 

Community members with no medical experience can fill key support positions too.

Renn said volunteers can decide how they would like to serve based on their level of training. For those who don't have training but want it, the health department has that too.

"If you want to help there's not only a job you can do, but training for those jobs," he said. "The more volunteers we have the more excited we are."

Renn, who has coordinated Bullitt County's MRC since he joined the health department in 2009, said keeping the local program active and visible has been a struggled since its inception in 2005.

As a former volunteer firefighter, Renn said the local MRC has experienced many of the same problems that face local fire departments such as recruiting volunteers and staying organized. 

And while Renn said Bullitt County's MRC has improved over the years, the chapter could use some work, starting with increasing its rolls. 

Renn said recruiting volunteers has been a challenge, which is one of the reasons for the open house. 

"It's a chance to come by and check us out," he said. "If you're interested you can stick around and if you're not you can have a cookie and a soda and be on your way."

Renn said just as important as having volunteers is remembering the reason the open house is being held on Sept. 11, to remember those first responders and volunteers who assist their neighbors and their fellow Americans in times of disaster and medical emergencies. 

For more information about Bullitt County's Medical Reserve Corps, the open house, or how you can get involved, visit www.bullittcountyhealthdept.org or call (502) 955-7837 extension 2157.