1st Edition

Managing Spontaneous Community Volunteers in Disasters
A Field Manual

ISBN 9781439818336
Published April 25, 2011 by CRC Press
323 Pages 66 B/W Illustrations

USD $105.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

While history has identified a need for improved coordination during emergencies, it has also demonstrated that community volunteers positively impact their neighborhoods during times of crisis. Laying out the rationale and process by which emergency managers, community leaders, and non-governmental aid organizations can effectively collaborate and integrate citizen response, Spontaneous Community Volunteers in Disasters explains how to engage, train, and utilize spontaneous unaffiliated community volunteers (SUCV).

The book prepares leaders to integrate local volunteers into any scale emergency response. Protocols and flexible management solutions are outlined to ensure safe and effective planning and execution. Work templates provided can be modified to suit the needs of any community. This accessible manual provides the tools to:

  • Assess your agency’s role, tasks, and challenges to meet community needs in a disaster
  • Build a plan for managing SUCVs by developing internal and external protocols
  • Develop effective spot screening and selection methods
  • Engage community members in information-sharing and outreach campaigns
  • Consider policies and procedures that create relevant roles for volunteers and community groups to build a resilient team for disaster recovery
  • Provide National Incident Management System (NIMS) compliant answers to address common barriers to using SUCVs

Combining field experience and psychosocial research, the book makes a strong case as to why community involvement in disaster response will have a positive impact on a community’s resilient recovery.

Praise for Spontaneous Community Volunteers in Disasters:

All emergency management coordinators can benefit from this book.
Howard Butt, New Jersey State Police, State CERT Coordinator

Lisa Orloff has done an excellent job in both identifying a significant opportunity in emergency response and meticulously outlining how that opportunity can best be leveraged.
Dr. Michael Chumer, New Jersey Institute of Technology

The Alliance for Nonprofit Management has nominated the book for the Terry McAdam Award. This award is bestowed upon the Committee's choice for the most inspirational and useful new book published for the nonprofit sector.

Table of Contents

The History of Spontaneous Volunteerism in Disaster Response
History of Spontaneous Volunteerism in Disaster Response
Lessons Learned from Spontaneous Volunteerism in Disaster Response
The Ecosystem of Supportive Partners in Disaster Response
     National Government Initiatives 
     National or International Nongovernmental Agencies 
     Local Faith-based Organizations and Nongovernmental Organizations
     Ordinary Citizens, Good Samaritans, and Local Assets

Exploring the Unique Challenges of Today’s Disaster Response
Public Challenges 
     Public Apathy 
     Diverse Populations and Cultures
          Where People Settle
          The Carless Society
Internal Capacity Challenges 
     Lack of Staff and Partner Expectations 
A Typology of Disasters: Traditional Hazards and Threats 
Natural Disasters 
     Coastal Storms 
     Landslides and Mudslides 
     Blizzards, Ice Storms, and Severe Winter Storms
Human-Made Disasters 
     Construction Accidents
     Chemical and Industrial Hazards
          Transit of Hazardous Material through Your Town

Disaster Management Concepts Applied to Spontaneous Unaffiliated Community Volunteer Management
A Common Lexicon of Terms
The Life Cycle of Disaster Response
The Incident Command System
Integrated Communication Concepts
Emergency Support Functions 
     Adjunct ESFs

Assessing Internal Readiness
Defining Agency Roles and Tasks in Disaster Response
Assessing External Partner Support
The Many Faces of Disaster Volunteers
Identifying SUCV Roles
     Survey Results 
     Tailoring Your Plan for Different Phases of Disaster 
     Tailoring Your Plan for Anticipated Hazards
Weighing the Pros and Cons of Utilizing SUCVs 
          Emotional and Physical Concerns 
          Internal Capabilities: Staffing

Protocols for SUCV Management
Internal Protocols 
     Designate Oversight 
     Span of Control 
     Agency Responsibilities 
          Catalogue Your Resources 
          Follow Up with Volunteers 
     Developing Protocols for Volunteers to Follow 
          Length of Shift 
          Length of Volunteer Commitment 
          Briefings and Debriefings 
          Post-shift Reports 
          Code of Conduct 
          Confidentiality Agreement 
          Family Preparedness 
     Volunteer Responsibilities
External Protocols 
     Choosing Disqualifiers 
     Core Attributes 
     Additional Attributes: Workshop Feedback 
          Volunteer Application 
          Volunteer Self-Assessment 
          Agency Outreach Flyer

A Volunteer Reception Center and Point-of-Distribution Model
Volunteer Reception Centers 
     Adapting to Your Size and Needs
Planning Your Volunteer Reception Center 
     Networking and Communication 
     Preparing an Efficient Floor Plan 
     Some Considerations in Laying Out Your Floor Plan 
          Running a VRC/VRA while Continuing to Serve Those in Need 
          Public Information 
     Staffing Policies and Procedures 
          Outside Normal Business Hours
VRC Roles and Positions 
     Executive Responsibilities 
     Executive Positions 
          VRC Director/ICS Commander 
     Operations Officer 
     Planning Officer 
     Logistics Officer 
     Finance Officer 
     Public Information Officer 
     Safety Officer
Position Descriptions for Roles That May Be Fulfilled by SUCVs 
     Greeters or Receptionists
     Resource Coordinator and Data Entry 
     Volunteer Orientation and Training Coordinator 
     Social Support Services 
     Food, Water, and First-Aid Services 
The Volunteer Reception Center Model Applied to the Public-Health Sector’s Points of Distribution Model 
     Position Descriptions for Roles That May Be Fulfilled by POD Volunteers 
          Clerk Assistant (Data Entry)
          Food Service 
          Supply (nonmedical) 

Spot Screening, Assessment, and Selection
Interview Fundamentals 
     Spot-Screening Logistics 
     Spot-Screening Safety 
     Spot-Screening Checklist 
     Keep an Objective View 
     Share Relevant Data 
     Use Spot-Screening Time Wisely 
     Modeling Values: Actions Speak Louder than Words
The Process 
     Volunteer Application and Self-Assessment 
     Interviewer Templates 
     Five Types of Interview Questions 
     Cultural Sensitivity
Outcome of Interview: Steps to Take upon Selection 
     Offer a Role 
     Agree on a Communication Strategy 
     Validate or Check Credentials
     Decline with Gratitude

Reducing Attrition and Unwanted Behavior through Proactive Management: A Competency Model for Leaders and Managers
Why Good Management of Volunteers Is Essential
Find Existing Resources to Manage Volunteers
Understand the Needs of Your Managers and Your Volunteers
Proactive Management Protocols 
     Provide a Team Orientation 
          Just-In-Time Training 
          Share Your Agency’s Mission, Vision, and Values 
          Clarify Expectations 
          Promote Self-Care 
          Prepare Volunteers for Sunsetting 
          Long-Term Recovery Roles 
          Build Your Team 
          Leverage Command Presence

Building a Resilient Team
The Impact of Mental Health Issues in Volunteers
Potential Negative Side Effects of Volunteer Work 
     Risk Factors for Trauma and Stress Disorders 
     Secondary or Vicarious Trauma 
     Compassion Fatigue 
     Posttraumatic Stress Disorder 
          Symptoms of PTS D 
Signs that Stress Is Taking a Toll
Managing with Self-Care in Mind 
     Creating a Safe Space 
     Matching Skills and Roles 
     Free and Confidential Resources 
     Bonding with Your Team 
     Communicating Self-Care Concerns
Self-Care Training for Your Volunteers 
     Family Preparedness and Care 
     The Buddy System
     MEDS: Move, Eat, Drink, and Sleep 
     Relaxation Techniques 
     Self-Care outside of Volunteering
Volunteer Self-Care Guidelines 
     For External Distribution 
          Self-Care while Volunteering 
          Self-Care outside of Volunteering
Additional Self-Care Notes 
     Relaxation Techniques: Deep breathing 
     Keeping a Journal 
     Other Relaxation Techniques 
     Be Aware: Some Signs of Stress

Social Media and Emergent Technologies in Spontaneous-Volunteer Management
New Web 2.0 Technologies in Disaster Response 
     Federal Measures
     Social Technologies in Action 
          SMS Texting 
          Information-Sharing Portals
International Applications 
     The Case of World Cares Center’s Response in Haiti
     The Case of Bangladesh: Citizen Response to Floods, from Cell Phone
     Early-Warning Systems to Hand-Cranked Radios 
     The Case of Burma: Citizen Response to Cyclone Nargis 
     The Case of India: Women’s Organizations Response to Gujarat Earthquake
The Need to Engage Social Media and Web Technologies

Appendix: Forms

Each chapter includes an Introduction, Conclusion, and End-of-Chapter Questions


View More



About the Author:

As Founder and Executive Director of World Cares Center, Lisa Orloff has taken her experiences as a spontaneous unaffiliated volunteer during the September 11 relief efforts and created an organization that addresses our nation’s most valuable yet underutilized resources: everyday citizens. As a spontaneous unaffiliated volunteer, Ms. Orloff created an impromptu supply chain running from the Jacob Javits Center to triage units around Ground Zero using available resources, a map from the telephone book, and her personal cell phone. To fill the unmet need of necessary supplies, Ms. Orloff managed over 300 other spontaneous unaffiliated volunteers and supported official responders working in collaboration with the NYPD, the Army National Guard, and a host of other agencies. She emerged as a liaison between community volunteers and government agencies, most notably FEMA and OEM, working together on community-focused long-term recovery initiatives.

Taking from her 9/11 experiences and subsequent all-hazards responses, Ms. Orloff remains committed to supporting national initiatives that enhance community-led response and recovery efforts in areas preparing for or recovering from disasters. Ms. Orloff continues to work with an ever growing team of cirriculum steering committee members, seasoned facilitators, and emergency managers to develop and deliver community-based programs that bridge the gaps in education, communication, and collaboration.

Ms. Orloff serves as a subject matter expert working with the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration on the development of the ReadyResponders™ Network. Ms.Orloff continues to gauge the needs of the community on how to effect cross- sector communication, and develop an information sharing network for Emergency Managers, NGO's, CBO's and community members to communicate in preparedness, response and recovery initiatives.

Ms. Orloff has keyed World Cares Center’s growth from a grassroots volunteer-led effort to a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization with national preparedness and recovery initiatives. She is an established international speaker on spontaneous volunteer management, responder self-care, community preparedness initiatives, and building resiliency within disaster-affected communities. Ms. Orloff is a member of the UN WHO Mental Health Committee, Representative of World Cares Center associated with the Department of Public Information of the UN, the National Institute for Urban Search and Rescue, International Association of Emergency Managers, NYC-VOAD, NVOAD, NOVA’s National Community Crisis Response Team, and the Advisory Boards of Citizen Corps and the WTC Health Registry. She is also a board member of NYCVOAD, My Good Deed and Arts for All. Ms. Orloff is a graduate of the Institute for Not-for-Profit Management’s Executive Level Program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business. She is a recipient of the Mayor’s Voluntary Action Award for her service during 9/11.


The role of the volunteer is becoming more important in the planning, development, and implementation of an effective emergency response. World Cares Center’s training on how to best utilize spontaneous volunteers has made New Jersey better prepared to address this issue and maximize the value that these volunteers contribute to response and recovery efforts. All emergency management coordinators can benefit from this book.
Howard Butt, New Jersey State Police, State CERT Coordinator

Lisa Orloff has done an excellent job in both identifying a significant opportunity in emergency response and meticulously outlining how that opportunity can best be leveraged. Spontaneous volunteers are vital to the success of an emergency response, and, as such, they must be harnessed and led in a planned, focused manner. The author should be commended for articulating this opportunity and packaging it in a manner that benefits the entire emergency response effort.
Dr. Michael Chumer, New Jersey Institute of Technology