Engaging Volunteers – Disaster Readiness Toolkit

Voluntary citizen involvement is a valuable asset for communities in their efforts to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. Serve Montana, the Governor’s Office of Community Service, in partnership with United Way of Yellowstone County and Serendipity Solutions, is pleased to offer this Toolkit to provide encouragement and support for Montana communities to effectively engage this often underutilized and even overlooked resource.

Special emphasis in the Toolkit is placed on managing spontaneous volunteers. These volunteers are not trained or affiliated with a disaster response organization but will almost certainly show up to help with or without an invitation. Several unknown factors are associated with spontaneous volunteers such as, how many will arrive, whether or not they have good intentions, what skills they bring, how will they be housed and fed. Unless properly managed, this influx of volunteers can create a disaster within a disaster.

Crews from the Laurel Water Department, Laurel Volunteer Fire Department, and CHS Refinery work Wednesday morning, May 25, 2011, sandbagging around the inlet for the water treatment plant as rising water from the Yellowstone River threatens the facility in Laurel, Mont. (AP Photo/The Billings Gazette, James Woodcock)

Crews from the Laurel Water Department, Laurel Volunteer Fire Department, and CHS Refinery work Wednesday morning, May 25, 2011, sandbagging around the inlet for the water treatment plant as rising water from the Yellowstone River threatens the facility in Laurel, Mont. (AP Photo/The Billings Gazette, James Woodcock)

This Toolkit may be used by any size community but it was designed with a focus on being helpful for smaller, more rural communities that do not have as many organizational and institutional resources as the largest cities in Montana. Volunteer efforts that are organized and documented can not only restore normalcy to a community in the aftermath of an emergency but can also offset the unanticipated and unbudgeted disaster costs to communities.

Link to the Disaster Readiness Toolkit

Montana Toolkit section 1

Montana Toolkit section 2

Paper copies are limited, but may be requested by calling 406-444-1718 or emailing ready@mt.gov

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