Five units of the Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps (OKMRC) received program recognition awards from the national Medical Reserve Corps. The OKMRC program is coordinated and supported by the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).
The OKMRC is an organized group of volunteers trained to respond in multiple capacities during emergencies or disasters involving injury or disease to large numbers of people, as well as supporting non-emergency public health events. There are 32 units serving across the state with more than 5,500 volunteers.
Oklahoma volunteers and partners were recognized in five of the 12 award categories. Award recipients are listed below:
Choctaw Nation MRC received the Community Resilience Award for their Skin Deep Initiative. The project was a collaborative effort with American Red Cross. Volunteers donated more than 100 hours of service to provide education about water-related incidents, sunburns and mosquito borne illnesses at local pools, splash pads and community events. An extension of the project was the development of culturally sensitive water safety storybooks, which were distributed with precautionary supplies such as sunscreen, insect repellent, sunglasses and lip balm.
Oklahoma MRC Nurses received the Youth Engagement Award for sponsoring a summer nursing student externship for three years. The program for traditional undergraduate students in nursing programs has expanded to include the University of Oklahoma, University of Central Oklahoma, Northwestern Oklahoma State University and Southwestern Oklahoma State University. The nurse extern students presented personal preparedness information to middle school and high school students, as well as their nursing student peers. The program focused on public health emergency preparedness and response and reached more than 800 students.
Angel Kerr, Oklahoma City received the Outstanding Public Health Volunteer Award for volunteering as a licensed practical nurse providing first aid and medical assistance at numerous emergency and community events across the state where thousands of people attended. Over the course of five years, she has driven more than 1,000 uncompensated miles to provide her service.
Oklahoma County MRC, Oklahoma City-County Health Department received the Outstanding MRC Housing Organization Award for providing financial assistance, hosting trainings, personnel and advocating for MRC to legislators at the state and federal levels.
Humane Society of Tulsa received the award for Outstanding Partner Organization for their efforts in collaborating with the Tulsa MRC unit during a number of responses. While overseeing the Humane Emergency Animal Response Team (HEART) in Tulsa, volunteers assist with housing companion animals of shelter residents who have been displaced by disaster. They also assist in safely rescuing pets from disaster sites, and house any unclaimed animals at their no-kill shelter facility.
Lezlie Carter, state coordinator for OKMRC, said these recipients were selected from a pool of more than 125 nominations. Units from 12 different states were acknowledged with Oklahoma winning the most from any state.
“Oklahoma has an outstanding group of volunteers and partners who are dedicated to serving the public when it matters most,” said Carter. “These awards are well deserved, and I am proud to work with all of the men and women who volunteer their time to serve Oklahoma through the OKMRC.”
The OKMRC recruits volunteers with various skills and expertise. They are in need of non-medical community volunteers, as well as those who are practicing or retired health and medical professionals. Training is provided and required of all volunteers. For more information about joining the OKMRC, visit www.okmrc.org