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Mobile phone use among Medical Reserve Corps coordinators and volunteers: An exploratory study

Amy Scheller, MPA, Megan Peck, MPH, Debra K. Olson, DNP, MPH, FAAOHN


Objective: To better understand how mobile phones can be used during emergency response, this study identifies a) current mobile phone use among Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers and coordinators in their daily lives and during response; b) challenges for mobile phone use during response; and c) areas for capacity building.

 Design: In 2012, 459 MRC volunteers and coordinators responded to a 35-question survey conducted online through SurveyMonkey. Respondents were asked how they use their mobile phones in their daily lives and during response, and how they would like to use them during response. Frequencies were calculated using SurveyMonkey and Excel.

Main outcome measures: Respondents reported frequent and varied mobile phone use in their daily lives, with 99 percent of respondents owning a phone, 82 percent texting, and 87 percent of smartphone owners using apps. Although 80 percent of respondents who had been deployed used mobile phones during response, use of sophisticated mobile phone features was low; only 10 percent accessed emergency preparedness apps and 23 percent browsed the Internet for emergency response information. Respondents indicated a desire to use more features during response, such as emergency preparedness apps (72 percent) and e-mail to send or receive response instructions (80 percent).

 Conclusion: Results indicate that given access to mobile technology and training, emergency responders would like to increase their mobile phone use during response. Implications of these findings show a need for organizations to improve their support of mobile phone use.


emergency response communication, mobile phone app, Medical Reserve Corps, smartphones, mobile technology and training

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