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Medical corps ready to help

Did you know that there are volunteers who are ready to help if an emergency strikes Denton County and overwhelms responders?

And not only that, but all of these volunteers are your neighbors.

The 800 people who comprise the Denton County Health Department’s Medical Reserve Corps come from all walks of life and can serve in a number of roles if they are called upon to mobilize.

The Denton County unit was established with other similar groups across the country in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to Sandi Wiggins, Medical Reserve Corps coordinator. She told us that President George W. Bush established the groups as a means to quickly mobilize volunteers during a disaster.

The Denton County team has been around since 2002, Wiggins said, and now includes people with a wide range of skills — including greeters, people who are medically trained, ham radio operators and data-entry people. Name a job, and they probably have someone who can do it.

That’s the point. When trouble happens, it’s nice to know that the right people are ready to step in, and the corps has made many positive strides in the areas of training and personnel over the years, said member Patrice Capan, a clinical nursing specialist and executive director of Family Health Inc. in Denton County.

“The other part of it is we have all gone through background checks,” Capan told us. “You know when people appear that they are supposed to be there.”

Taking such precautions helps relief officials avoid problems like those encountered after Hurricane Katrina, when well-meaning people from across the country went to Louisiana to offer help but in many cases lacked the training and expertise needed to do the job.

The Denton County volunteers have often assisted when the health department encountered situations that depleted its resources, Wiggins told us.

Members were called in to help answer hotline calls and provide information to the public during the West Nile virus epidemic, and they also helped out with H1N1 vaccinations during flu clinics.

If the corps sounds like a group you might be interested in joining, you can learn more by calling 940-349-2923 or visiting

One of the main benefits of becoming a volunteer said Jacque Walston, volunteer coordinator, is that the corps gives people an opportunity to give back to their immediate neighborhood and community. It’s direct involvement.

In our view, that’s ideal material for a worthwhile New Year’s resolution.

Why not find out if you can help?