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Emergency Volunteers

By General Michael (Mick) Webster: United States Civil Defense Assoc. (USCDA) OAS Member.

Who would you think is the most important person to handle emergencies in your community?

Most people would say in times of disasters and other emergencies in the order of importance are the following:

1. Police

2. Fire

3. Medical Personal

4. Public or Volunteers

But in reality during times of great emergencies and disasters trained Volunteers become the most available and therefore the most important.

The facts are that immediately after a large scale disaster Police, Fire, and medical personal will be over whelmed and may not be available for hours, days or even weeks.

Statistics show that there are only 2.4 policemen per 1,000 people on average in America. Here in Orange County California where I live cities have half the number of police officers per capita than the national average. The county has only 1.2 police officers and sheriff deputies per 1,000 residents, as stated, compared with a national average of 2.4 and a state average of 2.3, according to a Times analysis of state records. Orange County Sheriffs Dept is below the average with less than 1.0 per 1,000 and has less than 1500 patrol deputies for the whole county with over 3 million inhabitants.

Fireman, Paramedics, EMT’s and other medical professionals like nurses and Doctors fair even less.

The United States Civil Defense Assoc. (USCDA), through their local chapters, can often be the first on the scene for a disaster. Because each chapter is community-based, they are able to mobilize quickly and provide immediate assistance such as 1st aid, search and rescue, feeding, sheltering, clothing, and debris removal. During large and not so large disasters. USCDA can be on the scene even before FEMA and prior to a Presidential declaration, and they continue to provide their services independent of a disaster declaration, consistent with resource availability and community need.

USCDA by serving as a critical link between the community and the government, USCDA can help promote a quick and efficient disaster relief effort. Trusted local voluntary organizations such as USCDA can improve the delivery of services where fear or distrust can hinder survivor assistance.

USCDA chapters should be well grounded in the communities served. Often, USCDA members are friends and neighbors who are committed to community service independent of the red tape and government bureaucracy. As a result of this relationship with the community, USCDA is able to incorporate the values, priorities, and spirit of the community in their disaster relief efforts. Additionally, USCDA members are frequently able to identify specific individuals, families, or groups who have special or functional needs, which may be amplified during a disaster.

Who is the highest ranking law enforcement officer in your county?

Most lay people pick the cities chief of police. But the truth is the county sheriff. In time of disasters its the county Sheriff is ultimately in charge of over all emergency operations and bears all responsibility as the highest ranking elected law enforcement officer in the county. And the only one voted into office by the citizens he or she serves.

Nations have had to rely on citizen volunteers in times of crisis such as war, revolutions, manmade and natural disasters throughout history. It is the citizen volunteer that supports emergency government agencies. It is the trained volunteer who provides needed extra manpower during times of extreme crisis. Voluntary agencies have helped meet the needs of individuals and communities affected by disasters since the very beginning. Today, they serve a critical role in the emergency management field from helping communities prepare for and mitigate the effects of disasters to providing immediate response and long-term recovery services. Without the support, dedication, and expertise of trained volunteers, the government would be unable to address all the needs of disaster-affected communities.

Solutions only built around government are too small – Another reality that trained volunteers brings to light is how big disasters can be. If we only build solutions or systems that work within the capabilities of government, communities will and do suffer.

Just look at Katrina, not only were the emergency services over whelmed but many of New Orleans police officers, firemen and other emergency responders did not show up for work. In fact later investigations indicated that they stayed home to protect there own or were just too afraid to go in. A number of other New Orleans police officers who remained on duty became police death squads, roving bandits looting and shooting innocent victims during and immediately after Hurricane Katrina putting fear in the hearts of Katrina survivors.

Thousands of New Orleans citizens were herded into the sports stadium and was lift their without water, food and the basics of life. They were held there for over a week before any real help arrived. That help came in the form of the U.S. Army. Where were the Police, sheriff, fire, and National Guard? This is what can happen to the system when the disaster is bigger than the local, county state and even the federal government. What happens to those impacted by the disaster when that system doesn’t do what it’s supposed to? Government by itself does not have all the answers – the responders to large scale disasters must be much bigger than government. Large scale disasters must include trained emergency volunteers. We can’t fall into the trap of government having the answers because disasters hit communities and families. That’s why we need to build our response and recovery systems around the public trained volunteers first.

That’s what the USCDA does we recruit and train volunteers to respond to large scale disasters county by county.

Trained volunteer members of the community need to be at the planning table alongside government, businesses, and non-profit organizations because they’re the ones that best know the needs of the community and are local residents and they’re the ones who are often the first responders. That’s what the USCDA does best we identify people’s needs in the community in times of disasters and scale the solutions to meet those needs.

Our goal is to protect lives and property by effectively preparing for, preventing, mitigating, responding to, and recovering from all threats, crimes, hazards, and emergencies. USCDA is a private organization and not a government entity and it exists to provide humanitarian aid, and disaster response and relief on behalf of the duly elected county sheriff’s across America and help provide emergency relief where needed in his/her area of jurisdiction and to those citizens in need.

We can provide search and rescue, public school safety, force multiplier, and improved force protection, and all aspects of disaster relief.

During man-made or natural disasters and other emergencies. USCDA will respond to requests from any Constitutional authority or sheriff.

As was pointed out in time of disasters the county sheriff is ultimately in charge of over all emergency operations in his/her county and bears all responsibility. During those situations deputies can become overwhelmed and the sheriff may need additional locally trained and experienced USCDA man power in the form of a posse that operate under the command of the sheriff. Crimes, misdemeanors, disasters, public safety, community events, and keeping the peace have been the traditional role of the Sheriff. A new threat to our school children/students needs to be dealt with by county sheriffs with specially trained posse members.

USCDA also offers programs serving all 3,100 plus counties nationwide. This represents the best practices that a successful USCDA and County Sheriff can start and maintain their partnership.

USCDA while working in partnership with the county sheriff will establish a local USCDA chapter or work with an existing USCDA chapter to train USCDA members as well as citizens in the county. USCDA first starts with the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) programs educating them about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. USCDA conducts many more emergency Management training courses made available to your county residents.

All county sheriffs should consider adding us to their emergency resource directory so in times of emergencies they can call on the USCDA.

USCDA Training program

The following is just some of the training our members receive and is also available to the public through local USCDA chapters.

  • Emergency disaster relief
  • CERTS. Hands on training
  • Wilderness Survival
  • Food and water Storage
  • Advanced 1st Aid
  • Basic fire fighting & safety
  • Light search and rescue
  • Team organization
  • Disaster medical care patient stabilization & make ready for transport of the injured
  • Land Navigation (map, compass, GPS)
  • Water Purification methods
  • Advanced search and rescue with tracking
  • Communications. Nationwide Amateur Radio network and local HAMS Signal Core.

A substantial number of scientist now believe that global warming is and will cause not only more mega storms but new monster storms that man has yet to see.

Natural disasters, such as supervolcanoes , Earthquakes - ‎Tsunamis - ‎‎Tornadoes - Floods - ‎‎Hurricanes , Mudslides - Epidemics-Aasteroids, and major fires, pose great risks if sufficiently big enough.

Man made disasters these anthropogenic events could include catastrophic nuclear war, nuclear bomb explosion (suit case), nuclear power plant explosion , The Nuclear EMP Threat , Terrorism , bioterrorism, Chemical war fare - Dirty Bombs and many more.

There will always be natural and man made disasters. We need to be prepared!!!

Sources:

www.uscda.us

http://gis.oshpd.ca.gov/atlas/places/list-of-hospitals/county/orange

http://www.ocfa.org/

Orange County, California - Sheriff's Department

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