"Incidents begin and end locally, and most are wholly managed at the local level.” – National Response Framework (NRF)
Time and time again we are reminded that all people are vulnerable both during and after a major disaster. Similarly, we know from experience that emergency situations bring out the very best in humanity. It is not uncommon to hear heartwarming stories of neighbors and community members coming out in support of one another during times of crisis. Very simply put: natural disasters are community events.
We look at skilled labor as an invaluable resource when those skills are needed in the heat of the moment. Just as a firefighter or an EMT may be needed for a successful response during an emergency, so could the skilled labor of the licensed plumber, fork lift operator or language interpreter during the immediate response and recovery period following an incident. With thousands of nonprofit agencies in the US working 365 days a year—with highly skilled and qualified local volunteers—addressing community need across the country, perhaps it is time to look at volunteer management as skilled labor and engage the professional volunteer managers in our communities to help us better prepare for the one thing we know for certain about disasters: volunteers are an inevitable part of a community response.
When disaster managers look to local volunteer coordinators as a resource they are getting much more than someone with experience working with volunteers; they are potentially gaining access to a pool of vetted and skilled help. Cultivating this environment where neighbors can still help neighbors and human relationships are paramount in building community, coupled with leveraging smart planning and new technology, including volunteer management software, is a recipe for fighting disaster.
This effort has been spearheaded by groups like Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) and the Community Organizations Active in Disasters (COAD), but there is still much work to be done. Imagine a world where disaster managers simply called upon a local nonprofit organization when looking for certain types of volunteers with specific skills, who were ready and willing to help. Imagine a local volunteer coordinator, anticipating that call, knowing that they had teams of volunteers pre-identified, prequalified and ready to serve their community when their community needed them the most! Or better yet, picture a time when nonprofit leaders and disaster managers planned together, before disaster strikes, to better support all available community volunteers into an organized response.
Volunteer ManagementTM by Knowledge Center can support entire communities in the response and recovery effort. While initially built to serve the federally mandated Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESAR-VHP), the platform can be leveraged to engage multiple community organizations and account for all community volunteers willing to support an organized community response at the local level. Schedule a demo today to see the platform in action!