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Professional Affairs
Medical Reserve Corps

by Tara Vickery Gorden, PRh and Cindy Li, PharmD candidate

In mid-May of this year, a breakage in a central water plant in southern Illinois led to a water shortage lasting several days and affecting several counties. Members of the Illinois Medical Reserve Corps and local EMS came to the rescue, distributing water to residents of the area. Pharmacist Tara Vickery Gorden was among those who ensured that the local water shortage was managed effectively, and that residents did not have to suffer the consequences of running out of water or drinking the contaminated water from their taps. Gorden, a member of the Hamilton County Medical Reserve Corps unit, was called on to distribute fresh water to residents of neighboring Mt. Vernon. “If I had not been a member of the Medical Reserve Corps, I wouldn’t have been asked to help,” she says.

The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is a national network consisting of local units with civilian volunteers inside and outside of the medical professions. In addition to responding to local emergencies like this recent water crisis, it organizes community health events and holds drills that simulate large-scale medical emergencies.

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians can play a special role in responding to natural and manmade disasters, epidemics, terrorist attacks, and other emergencies affecting public health. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians can use their special training and expertise to manage the distribution of medications during these events, and ensure that patients are given the appropriate medications based on their needs and characteristics.

Emergency response must start before the emergency, in the preparation of an emergency response plan and training of volunteers. Therefore, emergency preparedness occurs constantly, regardless of the timing of the event. One way that you can prepare for an emergency is to volunteer for your local MRC unit.

If you are interested in volunteering go to, then search for your MRC by entering your address or zip code. From the map, select the unit closest to you to contact the unit leader for further details on how to volunteer.  You will also want to register at

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