Disaster Response series:
'Answering the call—Local Volunteerism in Action'
Following reporting from down-under by ABC News—Australia, Volunteering Australia generally talks about volunteers being there by necessity, not necessarily through planning. It is considered a fundamental, widespread problem throughout the country. Of course, they are so right about this being problematic, which we add globally.
Legions of organized volunteers worldwide join NGOs to show up from away. All sorts of volunteers amass from great distances to lend their expertise. Bravo! However, these groups of global citizen volunteers are distinctly not part of the three local categories of volunteers the Responders First initiative is for.
The ‘Responders First’ initiative focuses on local community volunteers who are already there—not having to come from away. Willing and able. Before outside help gets there, as shown in the Australian floods of 2022. With the increase and severity of widespread natural disasters worldwide, this problem will grow exponentially. Not to overlook the proliferation of armed conflicts requiring our help.
"One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency." - Arnold H. Glasow.
Lesson - Don’t rely on BIG Government
Here's the thing! Government protocols usually dictate that a state of emergency must be declared for it to act. Take the State of California. Such was the case last year because of a hefty, record-shattering snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Upon the Governor's proclamation in thirteen California counties, the state sent in the National Guard to help dig out. This is the ordinary course of the operational response. Many say, however, that the National Guard arrived late in the game.
The sheer volume of snow overwhelmed most emergency services. At all levels, everywhere, all at once. In the meantime, one of those counties, San Bernardino, used only eight snowcats to move firefighter crews and equipment. They could operate, but only in a limited capacity. Until that is, help arrived from the state to help dig out the fire stations, trucks, and main roads.
But what about the many residents stuck in the hills without food and medicines? The point here! To them, what was not happening mattered most. Could the integrated emergency management system be better prepared? Regardless, the citizenry should not put all their eggs into that basket. Below is one resident's take, as reported by The Los Angeles Times for San Bernardino County:
Graham Smith and his husband spent an hour and a half digging out the front door of their 80-year-old neighbour's home.
"Whatever help is coming now should have been here days ago," Smith said. "We're angry."While waiting for help, many residents have turned to one another, which is also the point.
The View from Here
The residents turned out for one another. Thankfully!
With only eight snowcats, available resources limited San Bernardino County search and rescue. Its contingency planning did not account for worst-case scenarios.
This is the perfect example of when citizen volunteers with snow machines and shovels could (should) be called in to assist with search and rescue and delivering emergency provisions door-to-door.
Last year in Buffalo, the call went out to the public for snowmobilers to help emergency services respond. In NSW, Australia, with the 'tinnie army,' it was courageous volunteers with small boats and watercraft organizing as they showed up. Both situation coordinators and the public contacted the community for help via social media. As they say, any port in a storm.
Trust that snowmobilers, boaters, ATVers and the like (power sports enthusiasts generally), like the "tinnie" army of boaters in Australia, can be an enthusiastic outdoorsy bunch that eagerly descend upon affected communities in need. These groups generally organize well.
Well-equipped volunteers delivering food and medicines and shuttling people to safety only scratches the surface of possibilities. 'The first 72 (hours) are on you' is a common mantra for those aware—that citizens under siege should be prepared to be self-reliant early on.
This is an issue for world citizens to band together to help communities under siege. To assist local emergency services in operating as safely and effectively as humanly possible. To reduce suffering and loss of life as best they can with what human resources and equipment they have on hand.
The ‘Responder’s First’ initiative is our answer to provide support for on-call and ad-hoc citizen volunteer networks. It is part of the answer.
The Time Has Come
With the increase and severity of severe weather and other natural phenomena, empowering locals to be active participant responders is essential. The Atlantic reports that proponents of the same "whole-of-society" approach, such as the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), suggest local and regional communities should exemplify.
The time for this has come. For a world of humanitarian aid donors to embrace. It is not an issue to parse regionally.
For instance, Australia's Emergency Services and population look like they are further along with this than many.
Lesson - Don't Ask the Policymakers
Many decision-makers may not wholly evade but sidestep these issues because of budgetary restrictions. We get that, so when they are in crisis, we must be ready to act when and where needed.
The budgeting process for governments is often where these problems first lie. With known unknowns like these, this is not at all surprising.
The 'Responder's First' initiative
The 'Responder's First' initiative grants select emergency and safety equipment to affected communities, as needed, worldwide. To fill inevitable shortfalls of safety and emergency equipment for citizen volunteers arriving ill-prepared at the front lines. Providing campaign funds are available to purchase and deliver the equipment when called upon. That is, as critical needs continue to dictate.
Operationally, we call upon community emergency services to manage who gets what and when regarding localized donor-funded resources. For example, fire, police, search & rescue, etc. Depending on the situation, whichever local agency or response team is best equipped to coordinate this for their community. These equipment donations may be relatively small but certainly impactful.
Fund-US - Disasters Aid to Citizen-Volunteers
We need help! Your support will make a world of difference in response to catastrophic disasters across the globe!
The cost of a pint or a glass of wine will help address the critical shortage of emergency equipment amongst citizen volunteers thrust into joining search, rescue, and recovery operations worldwide. This all-hands effort is to shore up their safety and effectiveness—while reducing suffering and loss of life. We are all first responders . . .
The smallest of giving adds up, and we cannot do the work without it. $10-15 per donation is good – less or more, whatever is manageable. Donations in kind, back-linking, etc. and sharing this along are all valuable ways to contribute.
To fund and deliver humanitarian equipment aid to the citizen-volunteer front line. The volume of equipment delivered worldwide is wholly dependent on the donations received. There is no shortage of need.
#HumanitarianAid, #Responder'sFirst, #Fund-US, #AscentProvisions
Phone: 604-732-4042; 1-800-361-0473 (N America)