Napa County Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and Medical Volunteer FAQs
Why should I volunteer in a program like this?
People volunteer for many reasons. And, being healthcare professionals, we often look for ways to help our own community. Joining this effort offers you several real opportunities.
- It is a way to offer your particular skills and training as part of an organized response when the health of your own community is threatened.
- It is a way to make a significant contribution because, many times, the services you will be able to provide would not otherwise be available during the crisis.
- It is a chance for you to belong to a group with a strong sense of mission and purpose—a chance to work together with others who care deeply about this community.
- And, there are real personal and professional benefits to this effort—among them are the chance to get training and continuing education in a very important area.
Why should I join a volunteer program now?
While undoubtedly all of us would be eager to help our communities during a disaster, joining a volunteer program before a disaster strikes allows Napa County to know you:
- Preferred contact information
- Volunteer preferences
This information will allow Napa County Public Health to quickly match you to an appropriare volunteer role. In addition, by officially being a member of the Napa County MRC Unit or Medical Volunteers, you will be covered for liability and workers compensation during a response and/or trainings in which you participate.
How does this impact my workplace? Does this mean I’ll be called away from my hospital to work somewhere else?
We understand that many health professionals have strong relationships with the place or places that they work. Many times this will mean that you have committed to a particular response that your facility is preparing. We fully understand that your first priority is to your own job and your own workplace. The purpose of this program is not to diminish the resources of any facility. Rather, it is to increase the resources available to all locations. That’s why, if you’re not already committed, we want you to be able to help our efforts to provide healthcare throughout the county. Also, you may not be able to get to your workplace (due to flood or quake damage); registering as a volunteer allows you to help at alternate sites. Additionally, some emergency responses will take place outside of healthcare facilities, and will not impact those facilities.
Am I obligated to respond to call outs if I join the Napa MRC unit or become a Medical Volunteer?
You always have the option of declining any training or deployment opportunities offered. Trainings and deployment opportunities hosted by Napa County are open to all volunteers (some may have prerequisites), and you can sign up for those opportunities that are of interest to you. Members can also indicate in their profile their response/deployment preferences to allow us to better match you to opportunities.
Can I be sued for something that happens when I’m working as a volunteer?
There are many protections in place for health professionals who volunteer in an emergency situation. There are both federal and state laws that are designed to protect volunteers from liability when they are responding to an emergency. While there are differences among the laws, it can be said generally that healthcare professional volunteers are protected when the acts they engaged in were within their scope of practice, within their responsibilities as a volunteer, and not caused by willful or criminal misconduct.
What happens if I get hurt while I’m working as a volunteer? Will I have to handle that myself?
California has a program, the Disaster Service Workers Program, that is the source of workers’ compensation for governmental volunteers. This program, subject to funding by the Legislature, would be the source of workers’ compensation in disaster circumstances for those government volunteers who may be injured in the course of their volunteer service. In order to be eligible for this program, a volunteer must be enrolled as a Disaster Service Worker. This involves registration and taking a loyalty oath. We intend for our Napa County volunteers to be properly registered and have the oath given them as part of this program.
What if I am not currently working? I’m a retired professional. Can I volunteer?
Absolutely! Your service is invaluable. During an emergency the entire healthcare system is at risk for being stressed. Many professionals with particular skills may have to be shifted from their regular job to another. Also, many professionals may not be able to make it to their regular place of employment. In such a situation, any licensed professional who is willing and able to volunteer will be able to make an extremely important contribution to the community. ight now, we are limiting our recruitment those with active licenses. But, if you are retired and your license is still active, you are more than welcome to join us and contribute to the good of your community.
How much am I going to have to do? I want to help… but I can’t do it forever!
We recognize that all of us have lives and families and few are capable of an unlimited commitment in a disaster situation. That is why when you register for this program, we ask you what you are comfortable with as far as a commitment of time and energy. We will make every effort to match your skills and preferences to the needs presented by the emergency to which we are all responding. And, as we mentioned above, it is not our intent to steal you away from other volunteer or work commitments you may have during the emergency.