By Eric Gebbie
On Aug. 9, 2013, Curry Community Health hosted a planning and informational meeting for stakeholders and the public. Located along the Southern Oregon Coast, rural Curry County is known for its breathtaking ocean, river and mountain views. Yet during an emergency, whether tsunami, storm or disease, Curry County could be cut off from the rest of Oregon for weeks at a time.
Antone Hernandez, a retired readiness specialist in the community, spoke during the meeting about disaster realities in Curry County. His passionate speech addressed the continual issue of severe winter storms and the need for personal preparedness. “If we took a survey of all residents, I feel the majority would respond they are not prepared to be self-sustaining in the event of an emergency,” said Hernandez.
Several leaders are emerging who hope to use their passion for emergency preparedness and health to make the community more resilient to disasters. Members of the leadership council include Beth Barker-Hidalgo of Curry Community Health, the local public health authority. Beth is joined by Don Kendall of Curry County Emergency Services and Andy Stubbs, a lieutenant with Brookings Fire Rescue.
“This is an organization that can be the pivot point to join all medical resources and does not interfere or make any one agency responsible for all the training. It is a volunteer base outside of department politics that can allow people to work together,” said Andy Stubbs about his great support for a Medical Reserve Corps in Curry County.
The planning portion of the Aug. 9 meeting sought to describe roles for each of the leaders, ensuring the Medical Reserve Corps would fall on no one person’s shoulders and to explore the parameters for start-up in Curry County. The leadership council has already received approval to house the Medical Reserve Corps within Curry Community Health and to submit their strategic plan by September of this year.
The second portion of the meeting focused on networking among organizations and community members. The history of MRC and the different roles one might play within the community was presented to a full room. Turnout was fantastic, from storeowners and managers, to those of the medical community, law enforcement, as well as assisted living. Event organizers remarked that the great attendance inspired them even more and that an active Medical Reserve Corps with multiple capacities was possible right here in rural Curry County.
Next: Three years of disaster training and SERV-OR expansion