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Medical Reserves Corps volunteers ready to join frontline fight against COVID-19

Posted at 9:25 PM, Apr 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-11 16:48:05-04

While almost all Arizonans are being asked to stay home, some are being called on to do the opposite. Doctors and nurses across the U.S. have put their scrubs back on to head to the frontline fight against COVID-19.

Now Arizona's medical reserves are stepping up and preparing to do the same.

Christopher Golda is one of more than 620 volunteers with Maricopa County’s Medical Reserve Corps.

While the group prepares to help with any sort of emergency, right now they are taking phone calls and answering resident's questions about COVID-19.

"A lot of people are actually scared. They’re not properly informed," said Golda. "A lot of people just want to hear a person’s voice."

"The most common call I would say, is testing," said June Vutrano.

"They want to get tested even if they don’t have any symptoms," said Golda, who is a retired Justice Department officer and helps guide people through the necessary criteria to warrant a test.

June Vutrano oversees the group of about 630 volunteers and counting.

"We’re getting volunteer requests -about 20 to 30 a day," said Vutrano, whose official titles are Maricopa County’s Emergency Preparedness Services Coordinator and Medical Reserve Corps Volunteer Coordinator. The group she is charge of is diverse in a variety of ways.

About one third of the 600 actually have medical certifications.

"Everywhere for nursing students, med students, people in that community who are very interested in emergency preparedness. All the way up to retirees," she said. "The majority of [those] folks are nurses, retired nurses, that are interested in coming back out and helping."

Governor Ducey said Thursday that the retired medical professionals may soon be called on, if Arizona sees an influx in COVID-19 patients that overwhelms existing hospitals.

"This includes any health care professionals who are currently retired but may be able to step in, volunteer and help," said Ducey, who signed an executive order to provide "Good Samaritan" liability protection to those on the frontline.
While doctors and nurses have, rightfully, been getting most of the praise.A lot of different people are stepping up.

"One guy called me today. He has a truck with a pallet jack - a box truck. [He said,] 'Do you need me? I’ll take [supplies] anywhere and pickup whatever you need,'" recalled Vutrano. "So people are just offering whatever they’ve got."

The Medical Reserve Corps volunteers have not been activated to help in hospitals just yet.

"[State leaders] are definitely making sure that we are prepared should the need arise," said Vutrano.

So for now it means answering phones and questions - Golda sacrifices 40 hours of his week doing just that.But he does not want any of the attention or praise.

"Everybody that’s out there - nurses, doctors. They are the heroes," he said. "We’re just a little piece of the pie."

If you are interested in joining the Maricopa County Medical Reserve Corp, you can learn more here.

There is also a Medical Reserve Corps in Southern Arizona.

And you can join the state's registry of reserves here.