In a recent article called “The White Cross of Trained volunteers: A Whole Community” the history of the concept of The White Cross of Trained Volunteers is described.
This article explains how the concept actually works and why it is so important for every community, regardless of size, to understand and embrace this concept.
Some Rules of The Road:
1. The potential for disaster exists everywhere.
2. Disasters overwhelm government response.
3. People want to volunteer to help.
4. Volunteers can be trained to help with response.
5. Response and recovery is improved.
6. To be PREpared is a personal investment of time, energy and dollars
7. To be MorePREpared is a lifestyle commitment to support yourself, your family and your community.
The White Cross of Trained Volunteers is a grass roots movement created to help establish whole community emergency / disaster organizations consisting of volunteers trained to respond quickly and correctly to emergency and/or disaster situations.
It is important to understand that “trained volunteers” may or may not be “first responders”. The White Cross of Trained Volunteers are folks who show up to provide support to the first responders. These trained volunteers can distribute pre-staged supplies, organize and distribute on-site donations of needed supplies for victims and rescuers, establish closed network communications for themselves as well as stay informed and connected with the emergency teams.
The previous article, “Emergency / Disaster – Volunteers”, discussed the categories of volunteers:
1. “Show Up” – These are folks who have no specific training but show up to offer any help they can.
2. “Trained” – These people have received training in emergency / disaster situations.
3. “Command” – These individuals have received emergency / disaster training and possess “big picture” knowledge of the situation in order to organize and lead other volunteers.
and provided a real life example of how those different volunteer groups worked together to effect a successful mission. You can watch the 12 minute video here: “BOATLIFT – An Untold Tale of 9/11 Resilience”
In that scenario the victims were the half a million people from the stricken piers and seawalls of Lower Manhattan during the 9/11 attack. The only way off the island was by boat due to the disaster.
All the volunteers that showed up to help were in the “Show Up” category. The boat captains and crews that immediately began to rescue people became the volunteers in the “Trained” category. When the Unites States Coast Guard made the decision that the effort needed to be better organized they made the radio call, “All available boats… this is the Unites States Coast Guard aboard the pilot boat for New York. Anyone wanting to help with the evacuation of Lower Manhattan report to Ellis Island.” At that point the U.S. Coat Guard became the members of the “Command” category.
Where do trained volunteers in your area come from? Actually they are right there in your community. The following groups of trained individuals often have a history within their community to show up and move towards the disaster:
• HAN Radio Operators
Members of these groups have trained working as teams and understanding chain of command. It is often members of groups like this that take on the roles of Command Volunteers due to their experience and training.
There are also other groups of trained volunteers in your community including churches, activity groups, charitable and philanthropic organizations. Identifying and associating with these groups and organizations is a good way to start building your trained volunteer base as you move forward in your effort to Be MorePREpared in your community.