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American Red Cross and MRC Joint Shelter Exercise
By Sophia Grimm
On Oct. 12, 2013, the American Red Cross (ARC), and Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) units from Linn, Marion and Yamhill counties came together for a full-scale shelter exercise to test joint deployment capabilities. 
In our exercise scenario, Oregon declared a state of emergency in Marion County due to widespread flooding. One thousand residents were evacuated from a flooded neighborhood. Emergency Management requested that the ARC set up a 100-bed shelter. Aware that the evacuated neighborhood was largely comprised of individuals with functional needs and chronic medical conditions, the ARC asked the Marion County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to supply medical support staff for the shelter.
At 7:30 a.m., the ARC and MRC volunteers mobilized and began setting up the shelter. In addition to areas typically found in a shelter, 21 Marion MRC volunteers erected an infirmary in which to diagnose and treat evacuees. 11 Linn and four Yamhill MRC volunteers created a client services station dedicated to finding durable medical equipment, consumable medical supplies, and other critical resources left behind during the evacuation. Within an hour of arriving onsite, the ARC and MRC units were ready to receive evacuees!
Physically setting up the shelter and infirmary was not the only goal for this exercise. The goal was to turn the conceptual idea of how our organizations would work together into a tangible experience.
The interactive portion of the exercise was conducted twice, using 20 actor evacuees to ensure that the exercise challenged our systems of operation without overwhelming them. Ten were given a script describing a functional need or chronic condition and asked to role play. The other 10 were listed as members of the general population or caregivers. Much thanks to our evacuees; we couldn’t have done this without you!
We encourage other units to also pursue partnership opportunities with our partners at the American Red Cross.