Medical Reserve Corps volunteer Bruce Baker, left, demonstrates hands-only CPR at the downtown SLO Farmers' Market.

Medical Reserve Corps: Standing Ready to Protect Community Health

Author: Public Health Department
Date: 6/13/2019 4:18 PM

This all-volunteer team works behind the scenes to support SLO County residents in times of disaster.

If a large-scale disaster struck SLO County, how could local agencies and health care systems quickly mobilize trained volunteers to take on a dramatic increase in need?

In SLO County and many communities across the nation, the answer lies with the skilled and generous volunteers of the Medical Reserve Corps. 

The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) brings together current or retired medical professionals—nurses, paramedics, EMTs, therapists, physicians and others—who volunteer their time and skills to support the community in times of disaster. It also includes non-medical volunteers like interpreters, logistics assistants, social workers and greeters. 

Bruce Baker, a Medical Reserve Corps volunteer and EMT, said he appreciates being part of the team that helps SLO County stay ready for emergencies.

“The Medical Reserve Corps is a great avenue for people with medical experience to volunteer their time and to network with other medical professionals of like mind who also enjoy volunteering,” said Baker, who grew up in SLO County. “I love volunteering my time to give back to the community which has given so much to me.”

This team stands ready to act in the case of emergency, serving as back-up to support first responders. It provides structure, training and support to ensure volunteers can operate efficiently during times of disaster. Throughout the year, volunteers take part in preparedness drills, participate in flu shot clinics and help with public education to equip more community members with skills (like hands-only CPR) to respond to emergencies. 

“Even when it’s not a time of disaster, we come together to train on emergency scenarios to prepare so we’re learning things that we may not be familiar with and are getting out of our comfort zone,” said Baker. Disasters come with unique challenges and the drills provide opportunities for volunteers to build their skills in those areas. 

The Medical Reserve Corps is convened and managed by the Public Health Emergency Preparedness team. Denise Yi, Public Health Emergency Preparedness Specialist and MRC Coordinator, said it shows how invested residents are in the SLO County community. 

“When there is a county-wide disaster or an event that can really impact us here in SLO County, it’s not just emergency service workers who respond,” said Yi. ”There are a lot of people behind the scenes who are responding to disasters and Medical Reserve Corps volunteers are among them. It’s really cool to see such a small community come together and be just as strong as a bigger community in ways like this … It’s not just strength in numbers but it’s how passionate people are about living here and wanting to contribute to the well-being of SLO County.”

The Medical Reserve Corp regularly recruits new volunteers for medical and non-medical roles. You can learn more at If you’d like to talk in more detail or join the team, contact [email protected] or 805-295-8672.