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20 Years of Dedication to Public Health Emergencies.

Pierce County Medical Reserve Corps is a key partner for Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department during the COVID-19 response. At every turn, we lean on volunteers to support our efforts and envision a path forward.

“I leaped at the chance to do preventive medicine again like I enjoyed in the Air Force,” Dr. Breck Lebegue said. He’s volunteered with Pierce County MRC since January. He retired from hospital work in spring of 2020. He says working at vaccine events is one of the most rewarding things he’s done in 40 years of practice.

“The relief and smile on the faces of older people as they got the shot and they realize, ‘I think I’m gonna live. I’m gonna be safe now,’” Lebegue said. “I get choked up whenever I talk about it.”

This month, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Medical Reserve Corps for its dedication to improve public health, safety and emergency response capabilities.

Pierce County Medical Reserve Corps was established in 2006 to create an organized approach to bring together medical and non-medical volunteers for healthcare and public health emergencies. 15 years later, PCMRC has more than 700 volunteers. They’ve given more than 17,000 volunteer hours during the COVID-19 response, and they are still going strong.

PCMRC volunteers are there every step of the way.

Volunteers speak up for public health and show up in tough times. We couldn’t do public health work without them. In the beginning days of COVID-19, some volunteers showed up the day we called them. They started investigation efforts into COVID-19 outbreaks and supported the important work of testing in long-term care facilities.

They’ve taken on countless behind-the-scenes roles to organize successful vaccine events. Or you may see them working when you come in for a shot. From local schools and churches, to Kirk’s Pharmacy and Cheney Stadium, they’re the backbone of many vaccine efforts. They help you from the moment you walk into a clinic, to the moment you walk out.

Shonna Randle joined PCMRC in January, helping coordinate volunteers in the field. On her first day, she was immediately put to work at a mass vaccination site.

“I’ve had about 7 career changes, and this has been, by far, the best.” She said, “It’s life-changing on a personal level, but also to be a part of the solution to the pandemic.”

One moment she’ll always remember happened at a vaccine clinic earlier this year. She spoke to a 95-year-old woman who was getting her shot.

“She lost a lot of friends around her,” Randle said. “She was close to 100, and she said to me, ‘Well at least I won’t die of COVID.’ She was so grateful to be vaccinated and so proud to be a part of the solution.”

Those are the kinds of stories that drive the volunteers of PCMRC.

“People do this on their own free time,” Randle said. “They all wear their heart on their sleeves. [And] they step up and step in when we need it.”

And that volunteer spirit doesn’t stop at the COVID-19 response. MRC volunteers also support annual school vaccination clinics, homeless encampment clinics, and much more. Our volunteers are always eager to help in any way they can.

They are always open to new medical and non-medical volunteers. Learn how to join at piercecountymrc.org.