Power in Volunteer Numbers: The Montgomery County Medical Reserve Corps

Immediately following the September 11th attacks in 2001, the Freedom Corps was established in efforts to help Americans find volunteer opportunities and strengthen the nations culture of service. Shortly after the establishment of the Freedom Corps, an extension to this program, known as the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), was created. Today, the Medical Reserve Corp (MRC) is sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and housed within the Department of Health and Human Services. This federal structure supports the implementation of MRC units throughout the nation at the local government level.

The Medical Reserve Corps a national network of community-based volunteers who assist their communities in activities related to public health emergency response. The MRC is not limited to strictly medically trained volunteers; non-medical professionals are also utilized for the unique skills they bring to their communities.

In Maryland, the MRC is known as Maryland Responds. With 24 local MRC units housed within the Local Health Departments, the State of Maryland has over 22,000 volunteers registered. To screen interested individuals, each volunteer must complete all the steps required in the “Road to Readiness (R2R)” program to be eligible for deployment. The R2R program is a series of five steps created to ensure all volunteers are trained in the basic functions of the Maryland Responds program, and, once completed, provides participants with state liability protection coverage during deployments.

Throughout the country, MRC volunteers most recently have been utilized for COVID-19 pandemic response. MRC volunteers can meet the growing demand for extra medical and administrative services needed throughout this pandemic. In Montgomery County, volunteers have assisted the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in the following ways:

  • COVID-19 Testing Sites: Specimen collection and administrative site support
  • Vaccination Clinics: Medical vaccinators and non-medical site flow support, registration, and vaccination documentation
  • Call Center: Staffing for the COVID-19 Call Center to answer community and medical provider questions
  • Health Department Operations Center (HDOC): Supplemental staffing for the HDOC
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Distribution: Supplying community partners and county residents with proper PPE
  • Food Security Task Force: Providing food distribution sites for individuals impacted by the economic impacts of COVID-19

With almost 1,900 volunteers county-wide, the Montgomery County team has logged over 25,000 volunteer hours since the beginning of the COVID-19 response.

Jessica Pryor is the MRC Coordinator for Montgomery County. “The volunteers in the Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps have been a significant resource to the COVID-19 response,” Pryor stated. “They allow us to have staffing resources and flexibility to quickly respond to the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the volunteers have provided us with the staff to open call centers and new testing sites or vaccination sites within only serval hours’ notice. The volunteers also help to provide ongoing support to operations and help us to meet the needs of Montgomery County residents during the COVID-19 response.”

For more information on how to become a Maryland Responds volunteer, please use the following link: