Community members—when properly trained and responsibly deployed—can support an emergency response and, in some cases, may be the first responder in a disaster or to a medical emergency. It is important that communities make volunteer, training, and exercise opportunities accessible to everyone. And that community leaders and influencers encourage their followers to take advantage of those resources and services and to involve others in the process.
- Join your local Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Unit or Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Individuals who volunteer with a volunteer organization active in disasterexternal icon preparedness and response are 80 percent more likely to have an emergency kit and a plan than those who do not.
- Get to know your neighbors; especially, those who are elderly, live alone and/or with a disability or chronic disease, depend on home use medical devices, and/or may need help in an evacuation.
- Give blood. Blood donations save lives; in fact, just one can save up to 3 lives.
- Join a friend, neighbor, or family member’s personal support network. Personal support networks are teams of people, organized by an older adult or a person with a disability, to help them prepare for and respond to a disaster.
- Invite family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to learn practical skills with you. Knowing, for example, how to give first aid and perform CPR could save a life, including your own.
- Talk to friends and family about seasonal flu vaccine, specifically, and personal health preparedness in general. Research by FEMApdf iconexternal icon shows that talking about preparedness increases the likelihood of others taking steps to get prepared.
- Donate responsibly to make the most of your contributions. A financial contribution to a recognized volunteer organization active in disasterexternal icon is the most effective donation to make.
- Contact your state and local public health departments to help with a Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) or participate in a readiness exercises.
- Train with the National Weather Service (NWS) to become a NWS SKYWARN Storm Spotterexternal icon.
- Help to share true and trusted information on social media. Friend and follow verified sources of reliable information on social media, such as your local and state public health departments and emergency management offices.
- Join your workplace emergency team or start a CERT programexternal icon at work. CERT has trained about 600,000 volunteers nationwide.
- How to Help Loved Ones in Hurricane-Affected Areas (CDC)
- Public Health Matters: Empowering Kids to Make Their Families Safer (CDC)
- Public Health Matters: The Power of Us (CDC)
- Public Health Matters: Volunteering Throughout the Disaster Cycle: Insights from the Medical Reserve Corps (CDC)
- Find Medical Reserve Corps Unitsexternal icon (ASPR)
- National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasterexternal icon
The Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESAR-VHP) is a federal program created in support states and territories. ESAR-VHP works with states to establish volunteer pre-registration programs for health professionals. The pre-registration and vetting process helps to prepare volunteers to serve at a moment’s notice, within their state or across state lines, to disasters and public health and medical emergencies. Contact your state or territorial health department to learn about volunteer opportunities where you live.