Saturday, March 17, 2012

Disaster volunteers, please curb your enthusiasm!

This article has a title that is misnamed.  Curb your enthusiasm. The problem is the flow of volunteers who want to help but are not affiliated. 
Those of us in volunteer management want enthusiastic volunteers, but we want them to be signed up, trained and affiliated before the event. Why? Three important reasons (I could think of more, but these are at the top!)
  1. Activating a trained, affiliated volunteer takes moments, as opposed to doing a check of an unaffiliated volunteer who doesn't understand the rules and the structure they will be working under. No matter your task in a disaster there are procedures to follow, and depending on your task, you may need to have background checks done. This takes time and frustrates you.  You can solve this by searching out an agency that matches your needs and abilities and join now.
  2. Affiliated and trained volunteers typically handle the stress of working in a disaster zone. They are part of a group that has trained and spent time together - their "safety net".  There is nothing that replaces being connected before it happens.
  3. And the last reason, the Emergency Management people will be happier. If you are badged with an agency, they recognize it makes their life easier, and the middle of a disaster response is stressful enough without trying to figure out who you are.

disaster dave

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