This series is based on an article in a Sonoma County Department of Emergency
Volunteers generally come in two categories:
- Spontaneous or convergent volunteers - those who come out of the woodwork (so to say) during any emergency.
- Volunteers who are in an on-going program, such as Certified (or Neighborhood) Emergency Response Teams, the Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS), Search and Rescue, and others.
When a disaster strikes, most jurisdictions will have convergent volunteers, whether or not we are are ready for them. Planning for the use of them makes that situation a lot easier. So, we can plan on how to handle them. It is also possible to consider setting up a reserve or an on-going volunteer program to handle specific tasks or special projects.
COMMON CONCERNS TO USING VOLUNTEERS:
- I don't want to work with, or coordinate, volunteers:
- I don¹t understand them
- My staff feels threatened by them
- I don't know why they volunteer to help us
- I don't comprehend what motivates them
- I or (my staff) don't know how to manage them
- I don't have space (or equipment) for them
- I don't have time to prepare work for them
- I don't have time to train them
- I don't want to deal with liability issues
- I don't have time to supervise volunteers
- I don't need them
- I had a bad experience with one of them and swore never to get involved with volunteers again
Do these concerns really justify our turning down what MAY be a valuable asset if we can find a way to overcome our concerns? Although that may not appear possible, if we are willing to at least look at the possibility, that is a start. If it will help, there are others who have already walked this path and found it well worth the stroll.
Series continues next bulletin with a look at common concerns, beginning with "I don't want to work with volunteers".