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FAQs About the MRC

What is the Medical Reserve Corps?

Threats including pandemic, bioterrorism and natural disasters are heightening awareness of emergency preparedness.

The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is made up of healthcare professionals and others who volunteer to help when public health emergencies or natural disasters strike. These mass casualty events can overwhelm local resources; MRCs provide a trained, organized crisis response. At other times, MRCs serve their community with public health education and outreach programs.

The national MRC program began in 2002 and is sponsored by the Office of the Surgeon General. There are more than 390 units across the country; 16 are based in Massachusetts.

What is the UMass Amherst MRC?

University Health Services, the campus’ health center, joined with the university’s School of Nursing to form the UMass Amherst MRC in 2005. The unit has more than 300 members serving the college community and the Hampshire County region.

What do MRC volunteers do?

Volunteers bring many different skills to the unit. Those with medical backgrounds may provide patient care, give vaccinations, screen patients, educate the public or perform clinical duties; others might provide administrative, logistical or communications support.

Volunteers receive valuable training, preparing them to help themselves, their families and their community in an emergency.

Who can volunteer?

Membership in the UMass Amherst MRC is ideal for practicing or retired college health care, mental health and ancillary services professionals; students in health or public service-related disciplines; or anyone from the university community who wants to make a difference.

There’s no minimum time commitment and basic training can be completed in as little as four hours.

If my MRC is called to help, do I have to take part?

No. Many volunteers may be needed during an emergency or other event, but unit members aren’t always available. You can decline a request at any time.

How do I learn more?

For information, contact Ann Becker, R.N., unit coordinator, at University Health Services, (413) 577-5193 or email You can also visit the regional MRC website,

What We're Doing

The UMass Amherst MRC is committed to fostering a sense of civic responsibility, partnering with the university community and surrounding areas to promote preparedness.

The unit has organized several full-scale emergency dispensing site and communication exercises in association with its regional response partners, comprising of various boards of health and surrounding MRC units.

The unit's leadership team is working to evolve a student-based organizational structure, soliciting volunteers from the university and the Five College community.

The UMass Amherst MRC collaborates with the Western Massachusetts MRC, which serves Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties.