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Three years of disaster training and SERV-OR expansion
SERV-OR expansion
By Eric Gebbie
The Oregon Health Authority recently closed out a three-year grant that saw massive expansion of training for SERV-OR volunteers around the state.  In total, 42 class sessions were held in 17 communities.
The competitive grant was received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in order to build Oregon’s Emergency System for the Advanced Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESAR-VHP), which is the framework for SERV-OR and Oregon’s Medical Reserve Corps units. 
Basic Disaster Life Support was held 26 times around the state, with a total of 832 participants.  This day-long classroom course is a seven hour competency-based, awareness-level course that introduces concepts and principles to prepare health professionals for the management of injuries and illnesses caused by disasters and public health emergencies. 
The Advanced Disaster Life Support (ADLS) course was held a total of seven times, with 172 total participants.  This intense two-day course allows participants to demonstrate competencies in mass casualty management, and includes disaster scene simulation with live simulated victims.  We owe a special thanks to the dozens of volunteers who played the roles of victims for this class. We discovered acting talent and ability to scream that surprised everyone.  Oregon also was able to host two instructor classes that qualified 51 people to help serve as instructors for classes, which greatly reduces the cost for classes and engages volunteers and partners who want to give back through instruction.
All of the Disaster Life Support courses were taught or overseen by Alan Dobrowolski and the instructors from the accredited training agency at the REMSA, the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority in Reno, Nevada.  Participant feedback and formal evaluations of every course reflect the quality of the instruction; real-world experience brought to the classroom and hands-on sessions; and their impressive ability to engage health care workers in serious discussions about complicated crises.
The grant also funded burn classes in partnership with the Oregon Burn Center.  A basic one-day course on mass casualty burn events was held five times with 126 participants.  An advanced burn life support course for licensed providers was held twice, with 46 participants.
“The total amount of hours contributed by volunteers just by attending these classes is staggering,” remarked Akiko Saito, Oregon’s state Medical Reserve Corps coordinator and program officer for the grant.  “We logged a total of 1,227 attendees and 10,064 hours.”
The courses served both as training for current volunteers as well as a tremendous recruiting tool for potentially new volunteers who were interested in the topic but not yet registered with SERV-OR or their local Medical Reserve Corps.  Current and potential volunteers can look forward to a new series of trainings that will begin in 2014, including a new course on wound care in the field.
Next: SERV-OR Members Volunteer Again at Project Connect of Central Oregon