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Volunteers receive disaster aid training at SLO County event

medical reserve corps slo.jpg
Posted at 5:50 PM, Sep 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-15 22:42:10-04

San Luis Obispo County officials believe having professionally trained community members who know how to provide medical assistance during a disaster is essential to community safety.

On Friday, the Public Health Department hosted a training for Medical Reserve Corps and Public Health nurses to brush up on their skills. Their training focused on injury bleeding control, burn care, CPR, and more.

“Today's training is really to train our folks to be able to support the Red Cross during disasters. We want to make sure our folks are ready to go at a moment's notice. That’s really what the whole point of today is, to get them ready to go and help out the community when needed,” said Vince Pierucci, EMS Director.

The training was made possible by a $25,000 grant awarded to Public Health by The National Association of Community Health Workers.

On Friday, just under 50 people attended the training.

“We have about 20 folks from our Public Health nursing department and about 30 Medical Reserve Corps volunteers,” Pierucci said.

Peggy Burhenn has been a nurse for over 40 years and wants to be ready to help her community.

“Nurses were trained to work in a facility and things are different when you’re out in the community and there’s a disaster, so I want to be able to do what I can do for my community. I felt like I needed training to do that,” Burhenn said.

“It takes an entire community to respond to that disaster and the Medical Reserve Corps offers that opportunity for folks both medical and non-medical to come out and support the community during emergencies,” Pierucci said.

A lecture-based series was offered to the volunteers in the morning. Later in the day, they participated in hands-on learning activities.

“So we’re going to allow them to simulate disaster shelters and what their roles would be during that,” Pierucci said.

Burhenn said she wants to continue to volunteer, learn, and give back to her community.

“I hope that what I learn is that I can hit the ground running when there’s a disaster and they call me up and say, 'Hey, we need your help,' that I will feel comfortable and prepared to be able to help,” Burhenn said.

If you are interested in volunteering, you can contact the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department.