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Medical volunteers honored for service during Colo. wildfires

Medical volunteers honored for service during wildfires

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - The Colorado Legislature adopted a resolution Thursday to recognize the efforts of the Medical Reserve Corps of El Paso County (MRCEPC) during the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires.

144 volunteers gave more than 2,000 hours of time, offering medical services to those in need.

Mike Ware, executive vice-president of the El Paso County Medical Society -- the parent organization of MRCEPC -- said the recognition was a proud moment.

"It's really a shining example of what we can do when we pull together as a community," Ware said.  "We receive no government funding.  It really is something that's built within the community and our volunteers do this for truly volunteer work."

Dr. Tom Higginbotham, who specializes in occupational and environmental medicine, volunteered during both fires.  

"We saw a lot of displaced people," Higginbotham said.  "A lot of fear, a lot of worry.  Some people left without even knowing the fire was as close as it was."

Frankie Gales, a licensed practical nurse and director of operations for the Medical Reserve Corps of El Paso County, expressed her gratitude at the selfless acts of the volunteers.

"We are so fortunate to have physicians and nurses, physician assistants, who are willing to stop what they're doing, look at what the community needs and volunteer to help out," Gales said.  "Whatever medical component they can fill, they will do it."

MRCEPC works closely with the emergency management leaders of the city and county and is ready to deploy in the case of disaster.

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