Disaster Assistance Volunteer | Disaster Action Team (DAT)

The recent events in Haiti have led many (including myself) to seek out ways to serve in the wake of such a huge disaster. Many are calling the American Red Cross (ARC), and offering services. I would suspect it is the same with many Non Governmental Organizations (NGO), and the International Red Cross (IRC). What you should know up front, that unless you are already a part of one of these teams, no matter how much you know or what your past experiences are; it is unlikely that you could be useful at this point in time.

The reason is simple; these are TEAMS. Teams must be built and team members must know their roles and have confidence in each other to operate effectively. That is why the Military excels at this type of operation with little or no additional training. Teams are built from the small unit Alpha and Bravo squad fire teams of 6 individuals, to Brigades and Divisions numbering the thousands. All know their role to play and make it happen side by side every day no matter what the mission.  The reason they do is because they train as teams every day, it is built in the military culture and re-enforced by daily application. Civilian Disaster Assistance Teams train together as well, and the site of a major disaster like Haiti is just not the place to integrate new members.

So with that in mind, if you are one of those (that want to help) folks please read on, if you have been wondering how you can help maybe a little closer to home, read on as well. If you don’t have the time, but want to donate money, there is a link at the bottom of the page, but please read on and learn some thing new. If you can’t afford to give a monetary donation, you are maybe unemployed and still want to help, God Bless You  and please read on.

The American Red Cross deploys a Disaster Action Team (DAT) throughout American communities daily, to local disasters and events ranging from single family house fires, to flooding events, and organized searches such as in missing children, or drowning victims. While it may seem at first thought that these are not major disasters, the Red Cross is acutely aware that they are for those involved and when the first responders deploy, both the family and the first responders can use the help the ARC provides.

The DAT members must have some initial training that include classes in the following:

Red Cross Mission Overview – Volunteer Orientation

This course introduces you to potential Red Cross disaster volunteers and members of other local agencies to the role of the Red Cross in community actions in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from emergencies and disasters. This course is the prerequisite to all other Red Cross Disaster Courses.

Mass Care an Overview

This course provides basic information about the activities of mass care workers and the skills and abilities needed to work in mass care. (This course is a pre-requisite to hands on training with the DAT).

Psychological First Aid

This course provides a framework for understanding the factors that affect stress responses in disaster relief workers and the clients they serve. It provides practical suggestions about what you can say and do as you practice the principles of Psychological First Aid.

Damage Assessment

This course prepares all Red Cross paid and volunteer staff with the skills to serve as Damage Assessment workers. These skills will be used in order to obtain and report information and provide operational support on Disaster Assistance Operations.

Client Casework: Providing Emergency Assistance to Families

This course introduces the family services function. You will learn the skills and tools needed to conduct an effective client interview and begin basic casework.

Shelter Operations

This course prepares the Red Cross and other agencies and volunteers to effectively and sensitively manage shelter operations as a team, to meet the needs of people displaced as a result of disaster.

Shelter Simulation

This course provides participants an opportunity to practice the knowledge and skills needed to run a successful shelter operation.

Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV): Ready To Roll

This course teaches Red Cross employees and volunteers to operate an Emergency Response Vehicle and its equipment safely and effectively to meet feeding and other service needs of people affected by disaster.

Now you can begin to understand why you may need to slow down a bit in your pursuit of helping the folks in Haiti or anyplace else for that matter. There is much, much more involved than grabbing a thermos of coffee and some blankets to providing assistance in an effective way. Even folks that have experience in harsh climates and conditions or organizing camps, food and water distribution have things to learn here.

This also represents what the LOCAL Disaster Assistance Team does, there is even more training and experience required being on a Disaster Services human Resource Team (DSHR) and responding to the designated National Disasters. I will cover more on this in future articles.

\So if you want to help. If the disaster in Haiti has moved you to find a way to help folks out when they need it most. Then now is the time to begin preparing for the next one. It may be next year, next month, next week or tomorrow. Contact your local Red Cross through the American Red Cross link provided and ‘Follow Me!”.

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Comments 26 comments

Dao Hoa profile image

Dao Hoa 6 years ago

The American Red Cross has helped a lot. I agree that we should either volunteer or donate through the Red Cross. I volunteer for the Red Cross at our local hospital.


amulets profile image

amulets 6 years ago from Singapore

Thanks for the info. It is always good to help others in trouble. It creates good Karma and merits.


Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 6 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Dao Hoa I do at the Ft Stewart Army Hospital as well and am enrolling in The DAT program, Great Job Thanks for your Volunteering!


Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 6 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

amulets - You are so right on that thanks for stopping By!


carolina muscle profile image

carolina muscle 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

Great info, Hmrjmr!!


Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 6 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Thanks CM ARC is everywhere in US...Thanks for Stopping By!


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

Great hub Hmrjmr. It is like the smart book of giving. Thanks!


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

Hammer,

good job with solid direction for the masses.


maven101 profile image

maven101 6 years ago from Northern Arizona

I feel much more comfortable giving to the Salvation Army than the Red Cross...too much bureaucracy, too little gets down to those in need...Incidentally, I noticed a blurb in Drudge where the UN is telling a world-class disaster assistance team in Houston, Texas that their services are not needed in Haiti...They have been on standby for days...The team is comprised of 80 volunteers, including doctors, nurses, disaster specialists, and dog handlers...go figure...Larry


Wealthmadehealthy profile image

Wealthmadehealthy 6 years ago from Somewhere in the Lone Star State

This is such an excellent hub. There is a massive amount of learning to be gone through before you are actually able to be present bodily to give aid to these people. You have reminded us again how hard the ones who have gone through all this training have worked before they really go to work.

We all have empathy for this disaster, the pain and suffering and many are out of jobs and are unable to give monetarily...BUT the GOOD NEWS is....pray for the safety of all of our loved ones who are in this disaster fraught land giving of themselves and their knowledge to aid with the much needed assistance. Pray for the injured that they may be found before expiring...Pray that God may have mercy on all involved.. Prayer works..Thank you for writing this hub...It is wonderful!


H P Roychoudhury profile image

H P Roychoudhury 6 years ago from Guwahati, India

Yes, I agree with you. I also written an article on Haiti Earth quake. Thanks for sharing.


Candie V profile image

Candie V 6 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

It's so hard to sit by and watch the pain, isn't it!? Like all disasters that happen in far away places, we can feel so removed and life continues on without a pause. Television coverage brings it into our lives, should cause us to sit up and take notice. Hard to sit and do nothing. Thank you for sharing how the groups are assembled, those that CAN and DO!


Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV

Hmrjmr,

Thank you for a lifetime of service. The disaster in Haiti is heart breaking. It's good to know that there are such dedicated servants of humanity as you to lend a hand.

I think we must also make long term plans for our help to Haiti. The USA will undoubtedly be involved in the area for the long term. We must set up accountability check systems for all money given to ensure it gets to the people and is not wasted in the pockets of corrupt politicians.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Hmrjmr, I applaud you for being part of the solution when disaster hits. When I was still nursing and a manager of a Level 1 trauma unit it was very exciting and rewarding work. I did take some American Red Cross training as well. Unfortunately, my health problems only allow financial help now but I sure miss being of service. I would encourage anyone to be apart of the Red Cross if possible.


Princessa profile image

Princessa 6 years ago from France

Very interesting, information. When I was living in Scotland I enrolled in the Prince's Trust Volunteers. You are right, they trained us as a team: first aid, Orienteering , team work, etc. before we did teamwork in the community. It was very hard training (for me at least) but I loved the experience!


Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 6 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

BPOP Thanks so much for stopping by!

50 Cal Appreciate it my Friend!

Maven - don't know where you get your info but give and help where you feel best. The ARC here in SAvannah covers a third of the State of Ga with two paid staff. The rest are volunteers. I would suspect their overhead would is competitive with any world class org. As for the UN it's track record speaks for itself. (not a big Fan).

Thanks for stopping by.


Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 6 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Hp - Thanks for doing a great hub too! GBY!

WMH - Thank you for your kind words, and I join you in prayer for all involved. GBY!

Candie V - Thanks so much, I hope this briongs some awareness and motivation for more of those who can!!

Tom - I thank you for yours as well, and you are right, I don't think Television can bring it home enough for folks to really wrap their minds of just how devastating this situation is or how long it will take to recover.


Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 6 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Pam - Thanks foir your kind words and all your service as well, GBY!

Princessa- Thanks for stopping by, I know with a certainty that the hallmark of the English Scottish and Welsh, are bringing their folks through training to a level of professionalism that far exceeds the norm. My sister in law Jane has done Volunteer service in multiple Orgs in England and the training she received was always second to none. GBY you for your community service...Hooah!!


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas

I remember seeing the Red Cross for the first time when I was about 7 during the aftermath of a bad hurricane and I remember how nice they were and how good they were to keep people calm. Very reassuring, they are great. Thanks for a good hub and good information.


Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 6 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Ladyjane - Glad they were there for you, Thanks For Stopping By!!


cjv123 profile image

cjv123 6 years ago from Michigan

When my husband was part of two relief efforts he said it was so disheartening to see numerous organizations that meant well - but just were disorganized or worse, got in the way - but the American Red Cross is always a safe bet that they KNOW how to get to areas of disaster and help in an organized and efficient manner! Great informational Hub!!! Thanks for writing it!


Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 6 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Thanks so much for stopping by CJV and For your families Service Hooah!


Artin2010 profile image

Artin2010 6 years ago from Northwestern Florida, Gulfcoast

Good informative hub you've got here Big J, this disaster is getting the media coverage that H Katrina got in "05. I hope that they massive effort from all over the world can save many lives and provide the necessary material assistance that is needed to accommodate so many helpless people. Thanks for spreading the word and providing good scoop.


Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 6 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Artin - Thank you for your praise! I join in your hopes that the world can join together to help these folks..GBY!


tim-tim profile image

tim-tim 6 years ago from Normal, Illinois

Bless your heart,Hmrjmr1!With people like you make it a better world to live! Kudos to you, my dear:)


Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 6 years ago from Georgia, USA Author

Thanks Tim-Tim for your kind thoughts..(Truth be told I get more than I give) GBY! :)

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