'Responder's First' - Search, Rescue, and Recovery - Disaster Operations Aid

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'Who You Gonna Call—Community Volunteers'

Disaster Response series: 

'Who You Gonna Call—Community Volunteers'

Highly trained paid and volunteer first-responder specialists staff emergency service agencies worldwide. For example, of the 30,000 fire departments across the United States, two-thirds are unpaid volunteers and we surmise that number equals or increases in search & rescue. What we loosely refer to as an 'ordinary' complement of staffing for 'normal' day operations.

The relative costs to the community for these highly skilled volunteers are extensive training, equipment, and, presumably, their out-of-pocket expenses.

The select 'volunteers' reviewed in this post are not the dedicated women and men described above.

In today's climate-induced world, the frequency and intensity of widespread natural disasters continue to rise. The various disaster response scenarios do as well.

Early on, during the actual onslaught of a natural disaster, a critical shortfall in human resources from a so-called 'ordinary' complement of core responders is simply not out of the question. The severity of the catastrophic event and other stressors will determine this.

To move to safeguard possible shortfalls because of this, we suggest, like the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to recruit qualified others within the community as a backup to help. Most of whom will likely be outside the professional ranks of emergency disaster response. One caveat, of course, would be that to act it be prudent and marginally safe in the circumstance.

This series speaks of ways to reduce these systemic critical first-response challenges  with volunteers from the local community.

 

Search, Rescue, and Critical Response

These are disasters, after all. Where emergency response operations have far less to work with over much wider areas. When early on, first responders can be overwhelmed by the magnitude and severity of Mother Nature's wrath.

Previously, we also reported on core professional responders hampered by the disaster itself, with some actually in need of rescuing themselves.

This is when, because of the sheer magnitude of the event and the volume of calls, overwhelmed front-line service providers can use help to effect rescues, deliver medicines, staff triage, and so forth.

Many emergency services administrators are undoubtedly mindful of the distinct possibilities for operational shortfalls when contemplating their community's overall situational disaster preparedness. What their respective budgetary capabilities are in forecasting a known unknown is yet another matter. For the financially handicapped, these issues compound.

Planning into the next stages, the recovery and rehab phases, the search, rescue, and critical response operations continue. Often without letting up. Big government and other relief agencies should have arrived by then. Along with troops of like-minded aid workers and volunteers in support.

We are laser-focused on the period before then. When incoming 'big government' and other relief are not there yet! During the extraordinary, highly charged circumstances early on, as nature dictates. When a sudden lack of core first responders and other resources has suddenly morphed into a major problem for all concerned.

 

Disaster Response series: 

 

'Who You Gonna Call—Community Volunteers'

 

Highly trained paid and volunteer first-responder specialists staff emergency service agencies worldwide. For example, of the 30,000 fire departments across the United States, two-thirds are unpaid volunteers, and we surmise that number equals or increases in search & rescue. Loosely referred to as an 'ordinary' complement of staffing for 'normal' day operations?

The relative costs to the community for these highly skilled volunteers are extensive training, equipment, and, presumably, their out-of-pocket expenses.

We must differentiate between the select 'volunteers' reviewed in this post and the dedicated women and men described above.

Early on, during the actual onslaught of a natural disaster, a critical shortfall in human resources from a so-called 'ordinary' complement of core responders is not out of the question. To safeguard possible shortfalls because of this, we suggest, like the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to recruit qualified citizen volunteers within the community as a backup to help. Most will likely be outside the professional ranks of emergency disaster response.

To reduce these systemic critical first-response challenges, recruiting volunteers from the local community could not be more prudent with today's increased frequency and intensity of catastrophic disasters.

 

Search, Rescue, and Critical Response

A community’s core first responders are easily overwhelmed by the magnitude and severity of today’s devastating disasters. With the volume of calls, overwhelmed front-line service providers can use help to effect rescues, deliver medicines, staff triage, and so forth. Enter the Citizen Volunteer with the right skills.

Many emergency services administrators are undoubtedly mindful of the distinct possibilities for operational shortfalls when contemplating their community's overall situational disaster preparedness. What their respective budgetary capabilities are in forecasting a known unknown is yet another matter. For the financially handicapped, these issues compound.

 

The Active Volunteer

'Active Volunteers' denotes a specific category of recruited volunteers—a select group for disaster response coordinators to encourage and deploy. Inactive volunteers are those that are not currently on the active list.

For emergency disaster response, calling out qualified volunteers is done with purpose. The citizens recruited at this level have specific skills—nurses, doctors, engineers, drivers, etc. To assist front-line professional responders as called upon.

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) calls this a 'whole community' response.

Putting the call out for select labour too . . . as well as specialized equipment for the incident (boats, snowmobiles, earthmoving equipment, etc.) that citizens can bring into the mix.

Widespread natural disasters are brutal. Then there is armed conflict. Countless municipalities and regions in all corners of the world fall into various states of critical need. Their respective emergency disaster plans should include qualified Volunteers' on a pre-established list for backup. Although we appreciate this, it is often easier said than done.

 

The Resident Volunteer

FEMA also suggests 'resident volunteers' do more to fend for themselves within their neighbourhood. For this reporting, the term 'Resident Volunteer' denotes a different category than 'Active Volunteer.'

FEMA concludes the resident volunteer is integral to a 'whole community' response. For neighbours to help neighboursas well as family and friends. 

This follows FEMA setting up its CERT program. Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). This is a national team-building training exercise delivered locally. Virtually any organization or public body in the country can set up a CERT.

 

Those Coming From Away

Communities around the globe in peril face a similar dilemma. It can take days for organized help to arrive. When short on paid staff and responding to a natural disaster, local volunteerism must be relied upon to fill the voids and to carry on until the need subsides.

Of course, many municipalities and regions do not have the financial resources to rally volunteers for formal CERT-type training, particularly in smaller hamlets or 3rd world countries. So, those communities must make do as the need arises.

 

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

Site: ascentProvisions.org

Email: ascent@ascentProvisions.com

Phone: 604-732-4042; 1-800-361-0473 (N America) 

COVER PHOTO: Catastrophic widespread natural disaster. Incident Commander directing the scene in a collapsed building complex rescue. 

 

 

References:

Federal Emergency Management Agency—Operational Lessons Learned in Disaster Response, 2015;

National Volunteer Fire Council

 

Global Fund

Choosing to give through our 'Global Funds' take a bit broader approach. Flexible enough to move in time with what's surely coming next!

Donor Gifting

We are marshalling small-dollar giving for select emergency equipment deployment into regions affected. This is 'Donor Gifting.'

For Safety's Sake initiative logo

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