In mid-September, Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 1 storm. The MRC of Puerto Rico, with its 403 volunteers distributed across seven public health regions, was ready to respond. Prior to landfall, the unit hosted a just-in-time training for volunteers on how to be prepared. After the hurricane passed, unit leaders communicated with volunteers via email to see who was available to assist.
The unit’s response efforts, as illustrated on this sheet, reached 3,148 people across 19 municipalities and included:
- Emotional Support Services
- Medical Support Services
- Hygiene Kit Distribution
- Distribution of Larvicide Tablets
- Distribution of fact sheets on how to prepare for an emergency
- Community Training
- Vaccination for COVID-19 and flu
Among those assisting were members of Strike Team R.E.S.T (Relief Emotional Support Team). This team of psychologists provided emotional support by phone and in-person to 59 affected residents.
“The R.E.S.T. team has been important in every response,” said Unit Leader Francis Galicia Feliciano. “We need emotional support professionals that can support all missions in the field.”
To help it prepare to respond, each year the unit develops a training plan covering topics like emotional support, how to be prepared, and the Incidence Command System. In January the unit will provide Basic Life Support training.
Additionally, the unit develops strong relationships in the community.
“We don’t work alone,” said Francis. “We have collaborative agreements and MOUs with 23 organizations including the International Medical Corps, Heart to Heart, and Create Hope. It’s important to include those organizations in training together with our volunteers. It’s a key to success.”