Arkansas has been awarded $575,000 in American Rescue Plan funds to strengthen the Medical Reserve Corps, a network of locally-organized volunteers focused on emergency preparedness and response, and health equity needs.
The Arkansas Department of Health will use the funds to expand the number of MRC units statewide from five to 14 to help ensure that all regions of the state have MRC units. In addition, the department will provide equipment and training for new units so that they have the resources and capabilities to respond to public health emergencies and disasters.
The money was awarded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response. It's one of 33 competitive grants awarded, and a portion of $50 million in American Rescue Plan funds available for public entities to expand their MRC network.
MRC units have supported emergency shelter operations and medical care during extreme weather events, organized vaccine clinics and testing sites during the COVID-19 response, and provided medical support during large public gatherings. MRC volunteers also promote community preparedness to improve everyday health and reduce potential public health risks and vulnerabilities.
The network of more than 300,000 volunteers is organized into about 750 local groups.