LOGAN – In his 20 years as the Bear River Health Department’s Medical Reserve Corps Director, Mike Weibel has seen the best in people as they rally to help others.
He recruits and organizes volunteers. And he is asking for help once more.
“The whole idea of the program is to have a pool of volunteers — both medical volunteers and non-medical volunteers — who can help us out in disaster or a public health emergency,” Weibel explained. “And I think we’re in the middle of one of those now.”
He said those interested in joining this volunteer effort can go online to Utah Responds, the State of Utah’s official healthcare registration.
He said there are 239 BRHD volunteers in the system now and he would like to double that number.
Weibel said there are those who want to volunteer and he understands they also have other parts of their lives. So he makes it clear, there is no obligation. When a need arises he goes to the Utah Response system to submit a survey and determine who might be available.
He said one change in Utah law has been helpful in adding trained medical help, “which allows, if necessary, if a doctor went and decided, ‘you know what, I’m retiring and there’s no reason for me to keep my license up.’ As long as they gave it up in good standing, within a 10-year period of time, we can actually issue an emergency license back to that doctor to continue working as a doctor.”
He called it a collaborative effort where doctors know how to be doctors and nurses know how to be nurses and when an event happens, he said, other volunteers can be taught how to do their jobs in a short amount of time, with the help of training sessions in the spring and fall.
Also, thanks to other changes in Utah law, he is able to provide liability protection for volunteers.
Right now, every local health department in the state operates a medical reserve corps program. It began in the eastern United States immediately after 9-11.