New Competencies for MRC Volunteers!

NACCHO, in collaboration with the DCVMRC, is pleased to announce that the MRC has adopted the Competencies for Disaster Medicine and Public Health (DMPH Competencies) as the new competency set for the MRC Volunteers.  See new MRC Core Competencies HERE

“The Competencies for Disaster Medicine and Public Health provide guidelines for a baseline set of skills for Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers. The guidelines will allow MRC unit leaders to develop training plans and cultivate response capabilities in their communities. They can also use the guidelines to improve coordination with response partners and more closely align with our national mission to improve the health, safety and resiliency of the nation,” said CAPT Rob Tosatto, Director of the DCVMRC.

Berkshire MRC is pleased to take the lead in a 2015 NACCHO Challenge Award that has been granted to our Region.  To read about our innovative project which will provide training and form specialized response teams of volunteers click here

Franklin County MRC Helps at SawMill River Race

Erin McNay and Jeanne Dodge

Erin McNay and Jeanne Dodge

FRCOG’s Citizen Corps Program provided two volunteers from the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) program to the Montague Parks and Recreations’ 2015 SawMill River 5K Race on January 1st in Montague Center. MRC volunteers Jeanne Dodge, a certified first responder and former EMT, and Erin McNay, a registered nurse, covered the first aid table at the event. Citizen Corps Coordinator, Robert Quinn-O’Connor (not pictured) ,was also at the event providing logistical support to the MRC volunteers.


general_750X300_with_text_and_button_v5_fallNational Preparedness Month is a part of a governmental effort to strengthen the United States’ preparedness capabilities.  Since September 11, 2001, the US Government has taken steps to encourage all citizens to make their own survival preparations. September was chosen as National Preparedness Month, as the tragedies of September 11, 2001 highlighted to the nation the importance of being prepared.

The national preparedness architecture encompasses prevention, protection, response, and recovery efforts to prepare the United States for all hazards – whether terrorist attack or natural disaster. This year, we celebrate National Preparedness Month by participating in  America’s Preparathon!  Be part of it! 

Contact your area’s MRC Leader or see our Event Calendar to learn about Preparedness Month activities in your town.

WRHSAC presents the Community Organizations Active in Disasters Summit.

Join us for a one day conference exploring how the recently developed Berkshire County Save the date imageand Pioneer
Valley COADs (Community Organizations Active in Disasters) can work together with local emergency
responders during response and recovery from a disaster in western Massachusetts.Workshop topics are
still being developed, but will likely include:

  • What is a VOAD or a COAD ?
  • Introduction to theWestern Mass. COAD Emergency Response Plan
  • COAD sustainability strategies
  • Intro to ICS
  • What kind of support can faith-based organizations provide?
  • What kind of support can housing assistance organizations provide?
  • What kind of support can the American Red Cross provide?
  • What kind of support can behavioral health services provide?
  • What kind of support can food pantries provide?
  • What kind of support can volunteer groups (MRC, CERT, DART) provide?
  • What kind of support can amateur radio clubs provide?
  • What is Mass 211 and how can it help during a disaster?
  • Who do we turn to for long-term recovery needs?

For more information please contact Tracy Rogers, Regional Preparedness Manager, Franklin Regional Council of Governments.

Click here for a save the date flyer/announcement.

  • The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) of Western Massachusetts Announces Participation in September’s National Preparedness Month (NPM): “Together We’re Ready – Massachusetts Prepared”                                       (West Springfield, MA) – This September is National Preparedness Month (NPM) 2013. The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) has committed to participate in National Preparedness to increase preparedness throughout the U.S. The event, now in its ninth year, is a nationwide, month-long effort hosted by the Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps, encouraging people, families, businesses and communities to prepare and plan for emergencies. The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is participating again this year by hosting community emergency preparedness events and an information booth at the Big E. Event details will be listed on the calendar section of the Western Mass MRC website,                                                                                                                     One of NPM’s key messages is for people to be prepared in the event that an emergency causes you to be self-reliant for three days without utilities and electricity, water service, access to a supermarket or local services, or maybe even without response from police, fire or rescue. Preparing can start with four important steps:                                  1. Be informed about emergencies that could happen in your community, and identify resources in your community that will be helpful before, during and after an emergency                                                                                                                                         2. Make a plan for what to do in an emergency – share it with your family                        3. Build an emergency supply kit – enough supplies for 72 hours per person and pets! 4. Get involved – visit the state’s website, (                                              Preparedness is a shared responsibility; it takes a whole community. This year’s National Preparedness Month focuses on turning awareness into action by encouraging all individuals and all communities nationwide to make an emergency preparedness plan.                                                                                                                                                For more information about the Medical Reserve Corps and how you can prepare, visit . For telephone information in English, Spanish or TTY call the national phone lines: 1-800-BE-READY, 1-888-SE-LISTO, and TTY 1-800-462-7585.
  • new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the Energy Department evaluates the economic cost of power outages and calls for increased cross-sector investment to make the electric grid more resilient in the face of increasingly severe weather events due to climate change.
  • Acting U. S. Surgeon General RADM Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H.  “Thank you again for your bold and noble commitment to health, and for your dedication to your country. We are primed to make tremendous changes to further improve the public’s health and at the same time, to shed light on how to best care for each other. I look forward to making these advancements together”

To read the entire letter, click here

  • West Springfield Celebrates Two-Year Tornado Recovery with the First in the Nation, “Pet Preparedness Parade”

(West Springfield) On Saturday, June 1, 2013 from 9am-11am the public is invited to join the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and Disaster Animal Response Teams (DART) from our region for the first in the nation, community event to increase awareness of emergency preparedness for people and their pets.  The West Springfield Health Department and Medical Reserve Corps are joined by the West Springfield Rotary in sponsoring this event.   “The West Springfield MRC has been very successful applying for grant funding to promote emergency preparedness for the, “Whole Community.” stated MRC Coordinator Kathleen Conley Norbut.  “We want to show that we have come a long way in the recovery from the shocking and destructive tornadoes that hit our communities two years ago.  We want people to learn about taking responsibility for their personal and family safety, including their beloved pets.”

Local and regional animal protection, shelter, training and care groups will have information tables and demonstrations between 9am-11am.  The public is invited to participate by registering themselves and their properly leashed pet(s) to receive a pet preparedness gift.  There will also be free, “give-away” gift items that will be raffled to a couple of lucky participants and their pets.

Participants will learn about: Go-Kits for Pets; view the DART trailer; meet animal and pet experts; experience the Greater Westfield MRC Mobile Disaster Kitchen and stroll around the common together in a parade of celebration of recovery and resilience.  “We want our friends and neighbors across the United States, that has been devastated by recent catastrophic natural disasters, to know that they too will recover.”    Stated Ms. Conley Norbut.  “Our work here is not yet done either, we have to continue to prepare and remain vigilant.”

To learn more about emergency preparedness and the Medical Reserve Corps in Western Massachusetts visit

  • Greater Westfield Medical Reserve Corps leader, Ed Mello, Jr., selected for national “Innovator Award”

(Westfield) The prestigious national Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), “Innovator Award” will be presented on June 5, 2013 in Washington DC to Westfield resident, Ed Mello, Jr., RN.   Ed is the founder and president of the Greater Westfield & Western Hampden County MRC-CERT (GWWHC MRC-CERT). Two years after Ed and the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers served tornado stricken communities across Hampden County, he will be recognized for his steadfast and creative commitment to the health and safety of our region.  Full story here:

  • FLU CARE AT HOME – Please read

This year’s flu season is turning out to be a tough one. Still, the single best way to protect yourself from getting sick is by getting vaccinated — even if you got the flu shot last year. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older receive a flu vaccine every year. In addition, there are a few simple steps everyone should take to protect yourself and your family from getting sick.

1) Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue or your inner elbow, not your hands.

2) Wash your hands often with soap and warm water, or use an alcohol-based hand gel.

3) Stay home if you are sick.

But what if you or a family member comes down with the flu? Now there’s an informational resource available on how to care for flu patients at home. It’s a brochure called Flu: What You Can Do, and it explains basic concepts such as

  • What’s the difference between a cold and the flu
  • How to keep from getting the flu
  • How to care for someone who has the flu
  • When you should call the doctor, or seek immediate assistance through 911

Flu: What You Can Do is available at no cost in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Arabic, Vietnamese, Russian, Khmer, and Chinese. All versions are available for immediate download or in hard copy format here.

  • Winter Storm Preparedness 2012-2013

  • October Surprise (deja vu all over again!)  2012

Date: October 28, 2012
Time: 7:30 PM
Situation: Hurricane Sandy is currently off the coast of North Carolina and is expected to move north-northwest tonight and tomorrow, making landfall along the New Jersey coast sometime Monday night into Tuesday.
Given the large geographic size and duration of Sandy, Massachusetts will experience moderate to major impacts, including damaging winds for a period of 12 – 18 hours, associated widespread power outages, and heavy rains. In addition, both south- and east-facing coastlines will experience moderate to major coastal flooding and beach erosion.
Potential impacts of Sandy include:
High Seas: Sandy is predicted to cause unusually high seas (30 feet or greater) off the coast of New England with seas building Sunday evening and peaking Monday and Tuesday. Strong gale and storm force winds are expected with hurricane force gusts possible. Seas will be dangerous and potentially life-threatening, even for large vessels. National Weather Service (NWS) advises all vessels be in port by Sunday morning.
Winds: A long period (12 – 18 hours) of damaging winds will occur, and it is anticipated these strong winds will result in widespread power outages. Wind damage may be exacerbated in southern New England as most trees still have foliage at this time of year. Inland Massachusetts could experience sustained 30-40 mph winds with gusts of 50-60 mph. beginning Monday morning. The Massachusetts coastline will see winds of 40-50 mph with gusts 60-80 mph beginning in late Sunday night and early Monday morning.
Coastal Flooding: Both east- and south-facing coasts in Massachusetts may experience moderate to major coastal flooding and beach erosion during the Monday and Tuesday high tide cycles. For south-facing coasts, the Monday evening high tide is of most concern and may experience major coastal flooding. Surge is expected to reach 3-5 feet, with high energy waves of up to 30 feet approaching the coastline. There is the possibility that areas within Buzzards Bay, especially communities from Fair Haven west to Narragansett Bay, may to see up to 6-10 feet of surge as the winds push water up into the bay, resulting in destructive coastal flooding. For east-facing coasts, minor to moderate coastal flooding may occur, with the Monday midday and midnight high tide cycles of most concern. East-facing coasts may see 2-4 feet of surge during high tide, with 3-5 feet possible during low tide cycle.
Rainfall: Massachusetts can expect 1 -3 inches of rainfall Sunday night through Wednesday with locally higher amounts of 3-5 inches possible, especially in the Berkshires and Worcester Hills. Rain is expected to begin Sunday night and potentially last through mid-week.
The State Emergency Operations Center has activated to Level 1 (Highest) as of 7:00 p.m.

September 2012

President Obama Proclamation 2012

As thousands of our fellow Americans respond to and recover from the damage done by Hurricane Isaac, we are called to remember that throughout our history, emergencies and natural disasters have tested the fabric of our country.  During National Preparedness Month, we renew our commitment to promoting emergency preparedness in homes, businesses, and communities nationwide, and to building an America more ready and resilient than ever before.
Each of us has an important role to play in bolstering our preparedness for disasters of all types — from cyber incidents and acts of terrorism to tornadoes and flooding.  That is why my Administration is pursuing an approach to emergency management that engages the whole community — from Federal, State, local, and tribal governments to the private sector, nonprofits, faith based organizations, and the general public.  I encourage all Americans to visit or to learn more about the risks facing their communities, find out what they can do to prepare, and join thousands of individuals from coast to coast by becoming a member of the National Preparedness Coalition.  Individuals and families can also take action by building a disaster supply kit with food, water, and essential supplies in case of emergency, and by developing and sharing an emergency plan with their loved ones.

August 4, 2012

Even bigger turn out for 2nd Run to Rebuild Monson (click title for video)

People came from all over the country to help

Updated: Saturday, 04 Aug 2012, 7:27 PM EDT
Published : Saturday, 04 Aug 2012, 1:39 PM EDT

MONSON, Mass. (WWLP) – On what was a very sweaty start to the weekend, hundreds of people from near and far showed up to support the continued rebuilding effort in Monson.

“Young volunteers to old volunteers coming out and supporting their community. From states as far away as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire,” said Sean Dimitropolis the director of Run to Rebuild Monson.

It’s been more than a year and two months since June first, 2011 and while most people would tend to forget things the longer the time had passed, more people actually showed up for this race than they did for the last one.

“It really shows Monson’s spirit and our looking forward,” said Danielle Boots of the Medical Reserve Corps.

“It is and I think it’s pretty unusual that a year and some months after an event folks are really together in this,” said Kathleen Conley Norbut of the Medical Reserve Corps.

The kick off to this 5 K race was different than any other. Shane Chase, a Red Cross hometown hero and part of Chase and Sons Chainsaw Company, cut a log in honor to start the race.

“A lot has been done by us and by other people, but there’s still more to go,” said Shane Chase.

Part of the proceeds of Saturday’s race support the Shane family’s efforts to repair the tornado damage done in the area.

“I think the progress has been good. I think the key focus is that everybody still needs to work together as a community and just help each other out and continue to do so until the town is the way it was,” said Shannon Byrnes of Monson.

August 2, 2012  

MEMA Update on Ghent NY fire – threat lessened for Southern Berkshires  READ

Ghent NY fire prompts air quality alert in Southern Berkshire County – residents urged to ‘SHELTER IN PLACE’ – stay indoors and avoid exposure to the outside.   Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency issued news release can be read   HERE

July 2012

WILBRAHAM – Kathleen Conley Norbut of Monson, Western Massachusetts coordinator of the Medical Reserve Corps, spoke to residents Wednesday about taking steps to be prepared to deal with emergencies in their homes such as weather emergencies.

“You have to be able to help yourself to be able to help others,” Norbut said at a presentation held at The Gardens of Wilbraham.

She suggested that to be prepared for an emergency, residents should have on hand three days worth of medicine.

They should also stock an emergency kit if there is any advance notice of an emergency, Norbut, a former selectman in Monson, said.

Items suggested for an emergency kit include eyeglasses, water, a thermal blanket, flashlights, canned goods and can openers, and transistor radios and batteries.

Variable weather patterns seem to be here to stay, Norbut said.

She said last year’s tornado which flattened the center of Monson after it came over Minnechaug Mountain was followed by the October snowstorm in which many residents in the region lost power for a week.

People need to keep themselves safe and to help each other out in an emergency, Norbut said.  Harry Setian, a Wilbraham resident, said that people can use their gas grills in an emergency, but it is not safe to bring gas grills inside.

If it is cold people can store food outside in a cooler, Setian said.  “Sometimes common sense is not so common,” he said.

Terry Nelson of Wilbraham, Wilbraham coordinator of the Medical Reserve Corps, said the Medical Reserve Corps is made up of volunteers who are trained to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies and disasters.

Anyone who wishes to volunteer can apply online at

Those who don’t procrastinate, but prepare for emergencies, are more likely to respond with resilience, Norbut said.

Residents should keep their cell phones charged and the gas tanks on their grills filled if they have warning of a possible emergency, Setian said.



News from 2012 Integrated Medical, Public Health, Preparedness and Response Training Summit in Nashville TN

Preparedness and Professionalism in Public Health and Disaster Management: Historical Reflections  by Dale Smith, PhD




 Leadership Award for Service to the Country

Robert J. Tosatto, R.P.h., M.P.H., M.B.A., Captain, U.S. Public Health Service – Director, Division of Civilian Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps, Office of the Surgeon General. Captain Tosatto is directly responsible for overseeing the establishment, implementation, and coordination of Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) units in communities nationwide.  READ THE ANNOUNCEMENT by the AFFIRM 2012 Leadership Awards Committee.