PARIS — Speaking before the Maine Municipal Officers meeting on Wednesday, a representative from a nonprofit public health organization urged greater involvement of community members in preparing for possible emergencies.

Kevin Saisi, a unit coordinator with the Oxford County Medical Reserve Corps, said the organization aims to recruit 0.5 percent of the population in each community in the county to volunteer in the event of a large-scale emergency. According to information presented by Saisi, Oxford County has a population of 54,755, and 187 people have volunteered to assist the Medical Reserve Corps.

Saisi said some organizations are already in place to handle certain aspects of emergency response. The Community Emergency Response Team is trained to set up shelters, address hazards, and conduct basic first aid. The Red Cross also does shelter work as well as interaction with family members of disaster victims.

The Medical Reserve Corps does not require volunteers to have a medical background. Of its members, only 17 are involved in medical professions while the remaining 170 are not.

“You’re going to have people who want to help out, and properly managed they can be a great help,” Saisi said.

As an example, Saisi spoke about efforts at a vaccination clinic for the H1N1 virus. He said that community groups were involved in directing traffic and entertaining people waiting in line.

Saisi said there was a need for training in “psychological first aid” in the emotional interaction of people who assist at disaster sites. He said people can also help in addressing the care of special needs residents and others who may need additional care.

“There are people who fall between the cracks, and we’re trying to fill those cracks,” he said.

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