San Antonio Office of Emergency Management
Volunteer Opportunities

VOLUNTEER WITH COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS

Hurricane Katrina and the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 caused many Americans to wonder how they can help prepare their communities.

Through Citizen Corps, individuals can learn about opportunities to get involved and help build capacity for first responders. With proper training and education, civilian volunteers expand the resources available to states and local communities. Many partner organizations offer public education, outreach and training for free.

For more information on any of the above programs see Citizen Corps' Partner Programs and Affiliate Programs.

Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program helps train people to be better prepared to respond to emergency situations in their communities. When emergencies happen, CERT members can give critical support to first responders, provide immediate assistance to victims, and organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site. CERT members can also help with non-emergency projects that help improve the safety of the community.

The CERT course is taught in the community by a trained team of first responders who have completed a CERT Train-the-Trainer course conducted by their state training office for emergency management, or FEMA's Emergency Management Institute (EMI). CERT training includes disaster preparedness, disaster fire suppression, basic disaster medical operations and light search and rescue operations.

Learn more by visiting the CERT website.

FIRE CORPS

Fire Corps promotes the use of citizen advocates (volunteers) to support and augment the capacity of resource-constrained fire and emergency service departments at all levels: volunteer, combination, and career.

Fire Corps is funded through the Department of Homeland Security and is managed and implemented through a partnership between the National Volunteer Fire Council and the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and with direction from the National Advisory Committee, a group of 15 national organizations representing the fire and emergency services, to provide the program with strategic direction and important feedback from the field.

Learn more by visiting the Fire Corps homepage.

MEDICAL RESERVE CORPS

The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Program coordinates the skills of practicing and retired physicians, nurses and other health professionals as well as other citizens interested in health issues, who are eager to volunteer to address their community's ongoing public health needs and to help their community during large-scale emergency situations.

Local community leaders can develop their own Medical Reserve Corps Units and identify the duties of the MRC volunteers according to specific community needs. For example, MRC volunteers may deliver necessary public health services during a crisis, assist emergency response teams with patients and provide care directly to those with less serious injuries and other health-related issues.

MRC volunteers may also serve a vital role by assisting their communities with ongoing public health needs (e.g., immunizations, screenings, health and nutrition education and volunteering in community health centers and local hospitals).

Learn more by visiting the Medical Reserve Corps homepage.

NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH

USAonWatch is the face of the National Neighborhood Watch Program. The program is managed nationally by the National Sheriffs' Association in partnership with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, and US Department of Justice.

Time-tested practices such as "eyes-and-ears" training and target-hardening techniques continue to be at the core of the program. As groups continue to grow, the roles of citizens have become more multifaceted and tailored to local needs. USAonWatch empowers citizens to become active in homeland security efforts through community participation. USAonWatch provides information, training, technical support and resources to local law enforcement agencies and citizens.

Learn more by visiting the USAonWatch homepage.

AMERICAN RED CROSS

For more than 122 years, the mission of the American Red Cross (ARC) has been to help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. A humanitarian organization led by volunteers, guided by its Congressional charter and the fundamental principles of the International Red Cross Movement, the ARC is woven into the fabric of our communities with 940 chapters nationwide.

In fulfilling its mission, ARC is empowering Americans to take practical steps to make families, neighborhoods, schools and workplaces safer, healthier and more resilient in the face of adversity. Through the Together We Prepare program, the ARC provides training for the public in community disaster preparedness and response; and lifesaving skills training (First Aid and CPR). The program also encourages people to donate blood and volunteer to help build community preparedness.

Learn more by visiting American Red Cross.

VOLUNTEERS IN POLICE SERVICE

The Volunteers In Police Service (VIPS) Program provides support and resources for agencies interested in developing or enhancing a volunteer program and for citizens who wish to volunteer their time and skills with a law enforcement agency. The program's ultimate goal is to enhance the capacity of state and local law enforcement to utilize volunteers. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) manages the VIPS Program in partnership with the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), Office of Justice Programs, and US Department of Justice.

Learn more by visiting the Volunteers in Police Service homepage.

VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS ACTIVE IN DISASTER

National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD) is the forum where organizations share knowledge and resources throughout the disaster cycle—preparation, response and recovery—to help disaster survivors and their communities.

Members of National VOAD form a coalition of nonprofit organizations that respond to disasters as part of their overall mission. National VOAD was founded in 1970 in response to the challenges many disaster organizations experienced following Hurricane Camille, which hit the Gulf Coast in August, 1969.

Prior to the founding of National VOAD, numerous organizations served disaster victims independently of one another. These included both government and the private, nonprofit sector. As a result, help came to the disaster victim haphazardly as various organizations assisted in specific ways. Unnecessary duplication of effort often occurred, while at the same time, other needs were not met. There was only limited availability of training for potential volunteers. Information for victims on services during disasters was woefully inadequate and communication among voluntary disaster agencies was very limited and coordination of services was negligible.

The seven founding organizations came together and committed to fostering the four C’s—communication, coordination, collaboration, and cooperation in order to better serve people impacted by disasters. Today, National VOAD is a leader and voice for the nonprofit organizations and volunteers that work in all phases of disaster—preparedness, response, relief, recovery, and mitigation. National VOAD is the primary point of contact for voluntary organization in the National Response Coordination Center (at FEMA headquarters) and is a signatory to the National Response Plan.

Learn more about National VOAD.