Reserve corps seeks volunteers

Published 9:33 pm Monday, February 20, 2012

Jim Steil, coordinator for the Western Tidewater Medical Reserve Corps, conducts a quarterly meeting at the King’s Fork Public Safety Center on Saturday. The regional Medical Reserve Corps covers Suffolk, Franklin, and Isle of Wight and Southampton counties.

Volunteers from the Western Tidewater Medical Reserve Corps attended the first of four quarterly meetings for the year this weekend at the King’s Fork Public Safety Center.

The only problem is that fewer than 10 percent of the active volunteers attended. New coordinator Jim Steil wants to change that.

“I am looking for the committed volunteers,” he said. “We have to get more people involved.”

Email newsletter signup

The regional Medical Reserve Corps, one of 31 units in the state, was formed in September 2003, only two years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that spurred the development of Medical Reserve Corps units across the country.

The Medical Reserve Corps supports public health initiatives and provides medical support during emergency operations. The regional unit covers Suffolk, Franklin, and Isle of Wight and Southampton counties.

On Saturday morning, the quarterly meeting included a tour of Suffolk’s shelter support unit, a tightly-packed trailer that includes many of the resources needed to run an emergency shelter.

Anyone is welcome to volunteer for the Medical Reserve Corps, even if they have no formal medical training.

“People shouldn’t shy away from the name,” Steil said. “We need volunteers that have non-medical skills.”

Physicians, pharmacists, nurses, epidemiologists, paramedics and veterinarians are among the medical staff encouraged to volunteer. But just as needed are such volunteers as clergy, foreign language or sign language interpreters, administrative assistants, volunteer coordinators and any other member of the community who wants to help.

The Western Tidewater unit currently has around 70 active volunteers. But Steil, who started in the coordinator job a month and a half ago, wants to increase that number.

Volunteers are asked to attend two of the four quarterly meetings and participate in two events yearly, in addition to any emergency responses that may be needed. However, more participation is always better, Steil said.

“The volunteer decides how much they’re going to engage,” Steil said.

Besides helping in emergency situations, the organization’s planned events include helping with mass casualty training, medication distributions for large-scale disease outbreaks and more.

To get more information, call Steil at 514-4768 or email him at You can also visit