“I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks, and ever thanks.”

-William Shakespeare.

The Oak Park Medical Reserve Corps can only echo the Bard’s infinite gratitude to our coordinator, Christopher Shields, Oak Park’s emergency preparedness and response manager. Mr. Shields will be leaving that position Jan. 20 to assume his new duties as assistant commissioner for preparedness operations for the city of Chicago.

The Oak Park Medical Reserve Corps is one of 936 Medical Reserve Corps units currently active (and growing) in the United States. Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the USA Freedom Corps was created by presidential decree. The MRC and the Citizen Corps are components of that executive order under the auspices of the Office of the Surgeon General. The mission of the MRC is to engage volunteers from all professions to strengthen public health, emergency response and community resiliency.

That threefold mission was given “hands-on” and “down-and-dirty” definition under Shields’ leadership. During his six-and-a-half years as our coordinator, he provided extensive training, involved us in emergency drills and “live” responses, and taught us how to prepare our families for the possibilities of deployment, sheltering in place and evacuation. While his training efforts undoubtedly made us more qualified and competent to respond in a disaster or emergency, his ability to inspire commitment, and the discipline to execute it as part of a team, will be his enduring legacy to our MRC. We are both proud and humble to have served with him. We take comfort in knowing that, if Chicago is better prepared for the unthinkable (and it will be with Shields on board), then we, too, can share and continue to build the community resilience fostered under his leadership.

Thanks and everlasting thanks, Chris, and may the force be with you!

The Oak Park Medical Reserve Corps

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