By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Snowy weather, flooding, power outages, no matter what Mother Nature throws toward Winthrop there is a band of volunteers waiting to make sure residents of the community are safe.
The Medical Reserve Corps. (MRC) of Winthrop are a group of people who can manage just about any situation. They are ready to set up shelter and provide essentials. Operating from a command center, yes, just like you see on television, it is in walking distance of the Town Hall, Fire and Police stations.
Jeanne Maggio, the coordinator for Winthropâ€™s MRC, explained that the MRC is a nationwide organization set up after Sept. 11. If there is no crisis in Winthrop they can be called to other communities. Within the region Winthrop is part of there are 27 communities.
â€œWe can serve locally or go to other places,â€ Maggio said, adding all the volunteers are keenly trained and ready for anything. The MRC meets monthly for trainings. They can deal with shelters, behavioral issues, disabilities and even pets. All MRC volunteers go through a background check. Currently, there are 25 active members of the group who are also certified in CPR and first aid.
â€œItâ€™s one of the largest MRCâ€™s in the state after Brookline,â€ Maggio said.
They can set up a shelter during power outages, hand out water when pipes burst. They also provide flu vaccine clinics for 300 to 500 people. The MRC also has the ability to conduct small searches for a missing person. Supplies come from the state and federal emergency management agencies and Homeland Security. Maggio explained that there are memorandums of understanding with the school department, gas stations, pharmacies and a local grocery store.
â€œWe use the Cummings and Fort Banks schools for shelters because they have generators,â€ Maggio said, adding that in the MRCâ€™s local history they have only had to set up a shelter three times, once because of a burst MWRA pipe. The MRC can also set up heating and cooling stations as needed. â€œAll of it is based on loosing power.â€
Maggio was a health and physical education teacher in the Winthrop schools for 30 years. She was a member of the Board of Health for 12 years (nine as chair) and she served Precinct 4 Town Councilor for six years. On the MRC she has worked closely with former Fire Chief Larry Powers and current Fire Chief Paul Flanagan, who is the emergency preparedness director for Winthrop, and the one ultimately in charge during a crisis. The townâ€™s health department is also involved with the MRC. There is an incident command center that filters down a chain of command to address registration, safety, logistics, and to make sure everyone is following regulations.
The MRC also attends town events and often provides first aid stations. The group meets the third Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. Anyone interested in joining the MRC may do so by emailing [email protected]