How to Join NJ’s Army of 5,000 Health Emergency Volunteers
Two to three times per week, you can find Liz Mizerek assisting healthcare professionals at the COVID-19 test site at the now-shuttered Quaker Bridge Mall.
And while she may have served as a first responder years ago, and currently directs nursing education at Mercer County Community College, she's offering this assistance for free — as a volunteer for the county's Medical Reserve Corps.
"The idea of being in a disaster area has never been uncomfortable for me. It's part of what we train for," Mizerek told the Townsquare News Network.
Mizerek, of New Egypt, has been a member of the MCMRC for about two years now. The volunteer organizations — there are 24 across the Garden State — enlist licensed healthcare professionals and retirees, and community members, who are willing to be "deployed" in the event of a disaster or other emergency.
"The idea of a global pandemic was not a surprise in my mind," Mizerek said.
But in times absent of a worldwide health threat, Mizerek said, volunteers remain active through training or assisting with tasks such as distributing medication or blood pressure screenings.
There are nearly 5,000 volunteers throughout the state, according to the Department of Health. The state is always looking for dedicated individuals to join the ranks, but the application and on-boarding process could take longer than usual due to the current health crisis — once received by the state, applications are diverted to a specific MRC unit.
Opportunities for volunteers during the emergency caused by the novel coronavirus are ever-changing. As more drive-thru test sites launch for concerned residents, the need increases for assistance related to data entry and handling specimens, among other tasks.
Mizerek has been assisting at the Quaker Bridge Mall test site, located in the parking lot, since April 1.
"It's a very structured and controlled process," Mizerek said.