Medical Reserve Corps plays a vital role
Hinsdale 11/20/07 Western Springs Columnist: Vicki Gonia Doings photo by Steve Johnston
Updated: April 4, 2012 1:10PM
I’ve written many times before about how much I love the Western Springs Fire Department. Every interaction I’ve ever had with members of the department, from visits to block parties to investigations of gas smells to the annual pancake breakfast, has been a pleasure, and I know how responsive and calm they all are in emergencies.
What I didn’t know until recently is the department operates the Western Springs Medical Reserve Corps. I didn’t even know we had a Medical Reserve Corps, nor what it was!
Director Tim Conley tells me the corps “is a community organization that exists to provide services for the village in the event of an emergency.” The Western Springs corps is part of the Medical Reserve Corps, a national organization founded in 2002 to promote local emergency preparedness, and works out of and is organized under the Fire Department and deployed by Fire Chief Patrick Kenny.
The village decided to start a Medical Reserve Corps to support the all hazards planning efforts, and the group has been in operation since August 2009.
I know what you may be thinking. “All hazards planning?” What does that mean? It sounds scary, and because I watch too many scary movies and television shows, it calls to mind zombie invasions (which is never going to happen. Probably).
But in reality, there are all kinds of events that require the help of the corps. They’ve provided support during the H1N1 pandemic and inspected basements during the summer flooding of 2010 and 2011. The corps provides meals to emergency crews and Public Works employees during extended emergencies, and checked on elderly residents during the blizzard of February 2011.
And though I was more than happy to be snowed in last year during that blizzard (I secretly hoped it would last a month or so — I had stocked up on firewood, canned goods and my liquor cabinet was full), it is very nice to know that our Fire Department and emergency medical service teams have extra support.
And who are the members of the Western Springs Medical Reserve Corps? It might surprise you to know that it’s chock-full of residents! That’s right! Western Springs residents continue the long-standing tradition of volunteering for all kinds of ways to support and help each other.
You don’t have to be a doctor to join, either. The corps needs to provide a variety of services, so volunteers are needed to cover a variety of needs. Volunteer positions include medical professionals, utility proficiency, environmental clean-up, information technology, clerical, child care and veterinarians.
It’s not as simple as just signing up to help, though. Volunteers will need to attend bi-monthly meetings, and are required to take Federal Emergency Management Agency courses which are offered online for free.
Other courses are taught by the Western Springs Fire Department and include first-aid, CPR and automatic external defibrillator training and classes in bloodborne pathogens and psychological first-aid (both of which will be a vital necessity, as far as I’m concerned, if zombies turn out to exist. Which they don’t).
Jokes about zombies aside, it is vital that even our little town be prepared in the event of an emergency. Even something like a blizzard, which may mean a day or two off from school and lots of extra shoveling for most of us, can be an emergency to a resident who may be unable to shovel out their driveway and head to the store for supplies, or whose power is knocked out or home is damaged by the weighty snow and ice.
And while it was an interesting sight a year or two back to see the big soccer field at Spring Rock Park under a few feet of water, it’s not so interesting when that same flood means that some residents’ basements are filled to the brim.
The Western Springs Medical reserve Corps is vital. We might not need it on a daily basis, but it’s a relief to know it’s there to support the village and Fire Department in emergency situations.
Are you interested in lending your talents and time to the Western Springs Medical Reserve Corps? I know I am (I am a woman of few talents, and while I’m fairly certain no one in an emergency situation wants me to sit around and tell them stories, I’m sure I can think of something. I’m incapable of cooking for less than 12 people, so maybe I should offer myself up as an emergency cook).
Residents interested in joining the corps or to learn more should contact Tim Conley at firstname.lastname@example.org or (708) 246-1800, Ext. 178.
Readers can contact Viki Gonia by leaving a message at (708) 824-8027 or by sending an e-mail to email@example.com.