Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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What is the Minnesota Responds Medical Reserve Corps?

Minnesota Responds Medical Reserve Corps (MN Responds MRC) is part of a nationwide initiative to pre-register, manage, and mobilize volunteers to help their communities respond to all types of disasters. The Minnesota Department of Health provides the framework for coordinating multiple local, regional and state based programs of volunteers who have medical, public health, or other needed skills.
The structure of each MN Responds MRC unit varies, depending on its own unique requirements and on the needs of the people and community that it serves. Volunteers donate their time and expertise in the area where they live, making it easier for them to help their own family, neighborhood and community.

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Why do we need it?

Following the events of 9/11, professionals with healthcare-related skills were among those who wanted to volunteer their services. Without prior training and credentialing, they were unable to do so. The anthrax attacks in the fall of 2001 reinforced the need to pre-screen and train volunteers to assist with emergency operations.
Your local MN Responds MRC units help communities meet unexpected medical and public health needs, using qualified local volunteers.

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Why should I join?

Many of us demonstrate our concern for others daily. Your knowledge and skills will be vital to your community - family, friends, and neighbors in a time of need. When a health emergency happens, your skills and concern for others will be crucial.

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How many people will you need during an incident?

The number of volunteers needed vary depending on the emergency and the needs of the community. There is also the chance that a number of volunteers will have conflicts, at the time they are requested to help, that prevent them from volunteering. We would like to register a large number of volunteers so each community will have enough when the need arises.

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What is required for participation?

You must first register with the program at www.mnresponds.org. As the local county or regional programs continue to develop in Minnesota, program administrators for your area will contact you about their expectations for participation. You may be asked to attend a program orientation or other training to help prepare you. If and when activation becomes necessary, the program administrators contact the volunteers to determine availability. You are never required to volunteer to anything unless you are available and comfortable about responding.
If you have questions about MN Responds MRC, contact your local public health department, or use the MN Responds Contact Us.

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Who should register into the MN Responds MRC?

Minnesota is looking for anyone willing to volunteer their skills in the event of a health emergency. These persons include:

  • Healthcare professionals, such as physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, psychiatrists, veterinarians, etc.
  • Public health professionals
  • Behavioral health and social service professionals including psychologists, social workers, counselors, interpreters, and chaplains
  • Support staff such as clerical workers, data entry, greeters, traffic control, canteen workers, etc.
  • Volunteers may be practicing, retired, college students, or otherwise employed
The University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Veterinary Association also run state-wide programs with a similar focus, but there are certain requirements for participation. Persons registering in the MN Responds MRC are asked specific questions to determine eligibility in these programs.

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Who will have access to the data?

Persons who will have access to this information are you, MDH and its local, regional, and federal partners involved in planning, investigating, or controlling a public health emergency, and the vendor contracted to maintain this Site and its services. MDH will not provide this information to anyone else without your consent.

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What kind of tasks would I be assigned?

The local health volunteer administrator will make an assessment of training needs and appropriate assignments. You may be asked to perform tasks related to your profession, trade, or skills, or in other places if the need exists.

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Can I register in Minnesota Responds if I'm not currently licensed or if I do not have any experience or training in public health or healthcare?

Yes. Whether you are actively licensed, a student, retired health professional, or someone with an interest in volunteering during a health emergency, you are encouraged to register. Because many health personnel will already be committed to a role during an emergency, many areas are actively recruiting "non-health" personnel who will assist health professionals when the need arises.

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How does the MN Responds MRC work in relation to other volunteer service organizations in my community, such as the American Red Cross, community emergency response teams (CERT) or Salvation Army?

Each MN Responds MRC unit is organized through a local public health agency, groups of public health agencies, and there is also the Minnesota Veterinary Corps and University of Minnesota. The focus for the response is to address health emergencies. All the programs coordinate with each and with the American Red Cross, CERT, and other local or state volunteer programs.

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What kind of training will I receive to prepare me to respond in a health emergency?

Your local program administrator will contact you for training opportunities, or any requirements for participation. Some programs will choose to wait until they need you and then provide just-in-time training to prepare you. When you are asked to volunteer, you will know what type of event it is, where you are being asked to respond, what will be expected from you, and what you need to know to help out and keep yourself safe.

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Are there any provisions for compensating me for time lost from work or other expenses?

There are no provisions for compensating volunteers. Generally, expenses for travel, lodging, and meals are provided. If you are asked to volunteer, you will receive additional information regarding expense reimbursement.

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Should I be concerned about liability?

Minnesota State laws (Minn. Stat. ยง12.22) provides that individuals will not be held liable for acts or omissions committed while serving as emergency or disaster volunteers if:

  • They were acting within the scope of their volunteer responsibilities;
  • They were properly licensed, certified, or authorized by the appropriate authorities for the activity or practice by the State of Minnesota, and the activities or practice was undertaken within the scope of their volunteer responsibility;
  • The harm caused is not the result of willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct or a conscious flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the person harmed.

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I would like to help out in the county where I live. Who should I contact to volunteer?

If you register into the MN Responds MRC at www.mnresonds.org your local county public health agency will receive your information. You can also contact your local Public Health agency to find out who is coordinating volunteer efforts in your area.

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