Medical Reserve Corps vs. Medical Volunteers

Napa County has two programs: the Medical Volunteers Program and Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Unit.

Both programs offer members of the healthcare community who are interested in volunteering during an emergency the opportunity to:

  • Register before disasters or emergencies occur
  • Participate in trainings and exercises on disaster preparedness and response
  • Give back to the community as a volunteer during an emergency

Medical Reserve Core (MRC)

The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), headquartered in the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General, is a nationally recognized program composed of local units across the country. The MRC units are comprised of both medical and non-medical volunteers who will support their communities during emergencies and participate in activities that strengthen local public health infrastructure. The overarching goals of the MRC are to:

  • Eliminate health disparities
  • Improve health literacy
  • Improve public health preparedness
  • Increase disease prevention

MRC Core Competencies

To become a Napa County MRC Unit member, volunteers are required to complete core competency courses set by the national MRC program. Learn more information on the core competencies. These courses are intended to:

  • Familiarize volunteers with the incident management system
  • Train volunteers to demonstrate competencies required in the event of a disaster

The core competency courses are not required for membership in the Medical Volunteers Program.

Why Become a MRC Unit Member?

As part of the national MRC program, Napa County MRC Unit members are eligible for national training programs (provided they have met specific training eligibility requirements), deployment opportunities outside Napa County and recognition opportunities.

Napa County MRC Unit members who participated in the H1N1 response received a commemorative MRC H1N1 lapel pin and a letter of recognition from the national MRC office. Sometimes the costs to participate in national MRC trainings are covered by the national program. In 2010, one of Napa’s MRC Unit members, Maria Biddenback, was one of only 35 participants nationwide selected to attend the Spring Deployment training in Washington DC.

Medical Volunteers

The Medical Volunteers Program is a registry of licensed volunteers in Napa County who are willing to serve as disaster service workers in the event of an emergency or disaster and maintain basic levels of participation (see table below). It is ideal for volunteers who are committed to helping their communities during an emergency but unable to meet the core competencies requirements.

RequirementMedical VolunteersMedical Reserve Corps
Complete registration in Disaster Healthcare Volunteers of California (DHVC) system



Maintain updated profile within DHVC



Complete the Disaster Service Worker Oath



Maintain an active license in good standing (if applicable)


Complete MRC Core Competencies courses



Remember that signing up does not obligate you to volunteer. You may accept or refuse any volunteer opportunities.