Submitted by Martha L. Oberdorfer, MPH, FPEM
April 19, 2021
April 18-24 is National Volunteer Week and Nassau County Emergency Management (NCEM) is recognizing its volunteers for contributing 12,525 hours to CoViD-19 emergency response efforts; 5,800 of those hours just since January 4, 2021. “We could not have been as successful as we have been in Nassau County without our volunteers,” said NCEM Director, Greg Foster.
Prior to 2020, NCEM volunteers were affiliated with either the Nassau County Amateur Radio Emergency Services (NC-ARES) chapter, local Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), or the 4-H Youth Emergency Team (YET) trained through NCEM.
When local planning and exercises in the fall of 2019 revealed that Nassau’s capacity to respond to a Public Health Emergency or Mass Casualty Incident was very limited, NCEM’s Senior Planner, Martha Oberdorfer, MPH, applied to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) to register the “Nassau County Medical Reserve Corps,” the only one of its kind in NE Florida.
A few months after the Nassau Co. MRC unit was approved and organized, the county had its first case of CoViD-19 and NCEM Volunteer Coordinator, “Cos” Cosgrove, D-HS, began recruiting dozens of healthcare professionals to help with the “OneNassau” unified Public Health Emergency response.
The new MRC members stepped up to help CERT and YET volunteers distributing masks and hand sanitizer throughout the county, answering residents’ CoViD-19 questions, and scheduling vaccination appointments. For the past 16 weeks Nassau Co. MRC volunteers have also provided thousands of vaccinations to residents at local Points of Dispensing (PODs).
“All of our volunteers have been critical to the local CoViD-19 response and our MRC unit is an essential part of our ability to support the Department of Health’s testing, contact-tracing, and vaccination operations,” said Ms. Oberdorfer. “Many of these incredible volunteers have been contributing their time and expertise for months. We can’t thank them enough; their generosity has been very meaningful to the public health of our community.”