Calcasieu Medical Reserve Corps ready for flu response

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Right now the swine flu outbreak is limited to just several dozen cases.. But it could get worse... That's one reason Calcasieu Police Jurors started a local medical reserve corps three years ago. Corps volunteers are in place and ready to serve.

It was after Hurricane Rita that Calcasieu Officials recognized the need to have a reserve medical corps in place. It'll be three years in May since the program was funded and they now have 268 volunteers.   Volunteers like Ross Theriot who plans to go to medical school. "During the hurricane evacuations it was intense. It was long hours, hard work, a lot of people to get through that area in a short amount of time. It was very intense."

Calcasieu Medical Reserve Care Coordinator Angela Jouett says it takes medical and non medical volunteers with all levels of skills to be ready to handle emergencies. "We're a national organization and your credentials are checked and you're verified. And when we say you're a doctor, you've been credentialed. You are a doctor or a nurse and your licenses are up to date. Volunteers have helped in recent hurricanes and they've conducted mass vaccinations in the past to help train for potential emergencies such as a flu epidemic."

In the coming weeks you may see reserve volunteers handing out little bottles of hand sanitizer and helping with public education and such. Says Jouett, "Our biggest role is to tell people to get out there and wash their hands, cover their mouth if they cough and just be very vigilant if they have any symptoms of this flu to stay on top of it."

Meanwhile, they hope measures aimed at the swine flu will wind up being just more practice. "With all the training that's been going on around the United States, I'm hoping this will be just a drill," says Jouett.

While some corps volunteers work only in emergencies, others provide community services all year ranging from safety demonstrations to hurricane recovery. Again, the reserve corps needs both medical and non-medical volunteers. To get involved call Angela Jouett at 337-721-4020 or 249-1039. Or for a link to sign up online click here.  Jouett says they also have a Facebook page.