When a disaster happens that overwhelms the resources available in an area, volunteers that are trained to work in these situations are often called in to help. There may be many organizations that will offer their services, resources, and manpower to help, so keeping everything organized is critical.
In the US, there are some large relief groups that offer help after a disaster, and many of them are run by a small staff and a large pool of dedicated volunteers that want to help. When you are working with these organizations, you can expect the volunteers they are sending you are trained to deal with relief efforts, but don't assume they know what needs doing.
If the group of volunteers has a leader or supervisor, you may be able to send them to do a task and let the leader deal with making sure the volunteers know what to do and how to do it. Making sure you are using groups with training in specific tasks for those kinds of functions is the best way to use them.
Recovery or Search and Rescue
Using volunteers for search and rescue or recovery work is very common, and there are some great organizations around that can help. Working with an organization that specializes in recovery or search and rescue is one of the best ways to ensure that the volunteers you are getting to have the right training and can handle the job correctly.
Often, these organizations will use volunteers associated with police officers, rescue groups, and military personnel to get people with the highest level of training and knowledge available. These volunteers often do the same kind of work in their daily jobs, but when they are part of the volunteer group, they bring those skills to the table and do not ask for pay.
In any rescue or recovery effort, there are going to be people that come and want to volunteer but do not have any special skills to offer. In many situations, these are people that would be happy to hand out water and food, hold the hand of a victim to comfort them, or hand out blankets and pillows to people coming into a shelter.
How you use these volunteers is up to you, but it essential that someone is overseeing them so they are useful. Putting people in supervisory roles and letting them sort out the tasks for these volunteers is good, and it frees you up to work with the large organizations coming in to support the recovery efforts after the disaster.
Reach out to disaster recovery volunteer groups to learn more.
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