How far is relative. Distance is measured by one's personal life style, experience and pocketbook. Driving five miles can be far for one person while a hundred miles is not really far for another. For these reasons I urge managers to never, ever assume that any distance is too far for a volunteer. Let the volunteer be the judge of how far is "far."
We have one volunteer who comes in two times a week and sometimes more often. He drives 90 miles one way.
I can say from long experience that there are many volunteers willing to travel 50 miles routinely while others may consider 10 miles an imposition. You run the risk, in fact, of turning off a good volunteer when you say, "I didn't call you out because I thought you were too far away." I know of many good volunteers who have been turned off and quit because of management's mind blockage about distance.
Be up front about it. This bears repeating: ask each volunteer if they mind driving more than a few miles to respond to an incident? If he or she says "no," then you'd better use 'em -- or lose 'em.
Signed Stan Harter, Auxiliary Communications Service program coordinator, State of California.