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Chatham Medical Reserve Corps

By Ann Watson
Posted Wednesday, February 8, 2006

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Chatham County, NC - The Chatham Citizen Corps Council is now a free standing non-profit organization. With its inception, the Council has now been approved for nine VISTA positions to continue building the capacity of the Homeland Security Programs the Council oversees. New VISTAs should start arriving around May, with the VISTA program lasting for three years. The non-profit status will now enable the council to pursue grant opportunities. We are now recruiting VISTA members to develop our volunteer programs CERT, MRC, Teen SERT, Fire Prevention and Safety, Community Watch and the Council itself. If you know of anyone who would like to work as a VISTA, please have them contact Jamie Dickens at 663-1181.

Chatham County MRC Gaining Attention

Bill Lail, MRC Project Coordinator has been asked to speak to three different groups at the state level. The Chatham Medical Reserve Corps and the Citizen Corps Council are exemplary in their planning and = implementation of programs to benefit our community. Bill will be speaking at the North Carolina Emergency Management (NCEM) Conference March 5-8 at the Sea Trails Resort in Sunset Beach, NC. This request was on behalf of the Guilford County Emergency Management Director, Ron Campbell. Bill will also be presenting a workshop March 23 with the topic "Disaster Preparedness and National Service Programs" during the NC/SC Corporation for National and Community Service Conference at Carolina Beach. The Citizen Corps Council State Conference to be held in May has also asked Bill to speak about how Bill has structured the Citizen Corps Council in Chatham County. They say, "We find you to be a best practice and think it would be beneficial to hear how you have brought the different players together, explored funding, and performed oversight on the different programs."

Recent Events

Safe Communities

At a meeting of the Citizen Corps Council on January 18, 2006, the board was presented with the "Safe Communities" program by MRC members Annette Willett and Joseph Birchett. After losing their coordinator, the program has had trouble with keeping things going through lack of coordination. The Board decided that Safe Communities would be a good fit for the ideals and goals of the Citizen Corps Council, so it was agreed that the CCC would be willing to take over coordination of the program. With the VISTA members that we have been approved to get, we would have the necessary manpower to maximize this = worthwhile program. Other groups have also expressed interest in housing the coordination of this program, so we will include = developments in future newsletters.

Interpreter Corps Activities

The CMRC staff is still seeking bilingual members of the community to assist in times of disaster and emergencies. Interpreter Corps members are asked to utilize their interpretation and translation skills by assisting the Latino Family Planning program as well. The Latino Family Planning program is a CDC based program administered through the North Carolina Women's Health Branch. This initiative provides education and information for women to make more educated choices about their health care as well as assist them in finding better access to a medical provider. The Interpreters are continuing with outreach, home visits and surveys to assess their needs/views about family planning services in Chatham County and appointments into health care have been = made through Siler City Community Health Center and Chatham County Public Health Department. Lay Health Advisors receive training on various women's health issues and have also been trained through the Fire Marshal's office to assist with a new Fire Prevention Safety Grant. This grant assists the Hispanic community who cannot afford smoke = detectors with detectors and a prevention check of their home.

Fire Prevention and Safety Program

We are still working to make Chatham County a safer place and to = reduce the risk of death to children from fire and smoke. To date, Elizabeth Sanchez, Coordinator, and those she supervises, have completed over 100 home visits and installed more than 100 smoke detectors. Over 2000 children in Chatham County have been directly touched by this program, and according to Chatham County Fire Marshal, Tom Bender, since the inception of this program, there has not been one injury or death as a result of smoke or fire.

We need your help in identifying at risk areas of the county. If = you know of an area, particularly where there is a large number of immigrants, that might be at risk to fire, please contact Elizabeth Sanchez at 919-663-5867. =20

Please support this effort, also, in asking for donations from local businesses. We are required to match the grant from the state with over $4000, and have only raised $1000 to date. If you would like to make a personal donation, please contact Bill Lail, Chairman of the Family Resource Center at 919-663-1181.

CERT Program Update

The CERT program continues to grow as local Hispanic churches complete their trainings. In addition, training is scheduled at Bethany Baptist in Gulf and we are working with Oakley Baptist here in Siler City to get a team going. The dates for the Bethany Baptist training are = February 20, 23, 27, 30, March 2 and 6. To date the CERT program now has eight teams with a combined total of 138 members. Jamie Dickens, a VISTA member has assumed the role of training coordinator of the CERT program as well as continuing to coordinate the Teen SERT program for the youth of Chatham County. If you would like more information on either program you can reach her at 919-663-1181 or

American Red Cross CPR/ First Aid Training

Jamie Dickens, CERT/SERT Coordinator completed training to instruct CPR and First Aid January 30 - February 1. This will be of great value for the groups that operate from the Family Resource Center. If you have a group of 5-10 who would like to be certified or recertified, please give Jamie a call at 919-663-1181 or email at

Disaster Management Committee

The MRC and CERT program staff coordinated with the Chatham County Department of Public Health to assist in the development of the county's SNS plan. The Disaster Management Committee is comprised of local first responder agencies and is responsible for the plan as well as developing job descriptions for all personnel and volunteers involved. MRC and CERT volunteers were written into the plan and those job descriptions will be available to volunteers as needed. Maureen Lamphere who was hired as the Bio-Terrorism nurse at the Chatham County Health Department last summer was responsible for much of this work. She has since left the Health Department but made sure that the plan for the SNS was into the State Office prior to her departure. We appreciate her hard work in getting this plan together.

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