For immediate release: Feb. 16, 2007 GALVESTON - The Texas Medical Rangers are looking for new volunteers, especially medical personnel, to respond in a community or statewide emergency. "We need doctors and nurses as commissioned officers, but also technicians and non-medical personnel to serve as non-commissioned officers," said Dr.Brian Zachariah, a lieutenant colonel in the Texas State Guard and the ranking Galveston officer. He is also director of the Emergency Department at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. The Rangers, including the Galveston Company, are now operating under a new name. On Feb. 1 they became the Texas State Guard Medical Brigade. "But our nickname is still the Texas Medical Rangers," says Zachariah. The Texas State Guard was formed in 1941. But the organization's mission has been upgraded considerably since 9/11. According to Zachariah, the State Guard became a ‘largely ceremonial' unit after World War II, when the National Guard took over most of its functions. But the Iraq War has stretched National Guard units very thin, and so the State Guard, including the Medical Brigade, has been revitalized. The medical brigade is an all-volunteer force charged with responding to in-state disasters. Galveston Company was formed last April, so it has not yet responded to a disaster. Members perform eight hours of hands-on drill monthly, up from four hours of drill before Feb. 1. "We are preparing for a possible bird flu epidemic among other threats," says Zachariah. During a recent training session, a veterinarian who went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina spoke about the hazards that snakes pose after a flood or hurricane. The Galveston Rangers also play non-emergency support roles. Wearing their distinctive camouflage battle dress uniforms, members have provided first-aid assistance at the Houston Marathon and the MS 150 bicycle ride. Zachariah believes that the name change was made to give the organization a "more professional" sounding title. The increased drill time, along with improved equipment, will lead to the company's becoming a more effective response team.   For more information on joining the company, go to http://www.galvestontexasmedicalrangers.com/recruiting.asp. The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston Public Affairs Office 301 University Boulevard, Suite 3.102 Galveston, Texas 77555-0144 www.utmb.edu