Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Austin Public Health to launch new Austin-Travis County Medical Reserve Corps volunteer program

Courtesy of Austin Public Health

Austin Public Health will launch a new volunteer unit in the next few months to help in medical emergencies.

The Austin-Travis County Medical Reserve Corps will serve as an all-hazards resource and support existing public health infrastructure in medical emergency preparedness and response, said Marlon Haygood, an emergency plans officer for Austin Public Health. The Austin City Council approved grant funds for the program late last month.

“We encourage everyone who would care to come support their community (to volunteer),” Haygood said. “Medical professionals would be a huge help during disasters such as a pandemic, but we also just need everyday people who want to come out and support.”

Volunteers will receive training that will prepare them to respond to different emergencies. Haygood said there is a wide range of training available, including emergency management systems and personal preparedness.

“Volunteers won’t just be engaged in emergency response but also in preparedness and building resiliency within the community over time,” Haygood said. “We want our volunteers to train and grow with us.”

Haygood said Austin Public Health worked with local partners, including the Williamson County and University of Texas at Austin Medical Reserve Corps units, to ensure the success of the program.

UT nursing professor Shalonda Horton, who is on the leadership team of the UT corps, said the unit is excited to partner with the city’s new program.

“When disasters happen or training or community outreach takes place, it does take a village, so it’s nice to have another organization on board,” Horton said. 

A graduate nursing student founded the UTMRC in 2011, Horton said. Since then, it has expanded throughout the University. Currently, the UTMRC has around 300 active volunteers.

Horton said the UTMRC encourages its members to join more than one unit to get involved in additional opportunities. She said the city’s reserve corps may make volunteering more accessible for individuals not affiliated with UT or UT affiliates who live farther from campus and would like to volunteer near their homes.

“The two of us working together will be a good thing for Austin,” Horton said. “We’re at a point where it’s not if something is going to happen, it’s ‘When is it going to happen?’ We can work together to be ready for whenever it does happen, to have our response be smoother and congruent working together.”

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