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Are Volunteers a Part of Your Disaster Preparedness Plan?

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 74 Issue: 9 Dated: September 2007 Pages: 18,20,22,23
Jay Spradling
Date Published
September 2007
This article describes the development and operation of the Tempe Police Department's (Arizona) Assistance in Disaster (AID) Program, which prepares citizen volunteers to serve effectively and efficiently during disasters.
Participants in the AID Program are existing members of the Volunteers in Police Service Program (VIPS), who have already been screened with background checks and polygraph tests. VIPS members who wish to participate in the AID Program enter a core training curriculum designed to provide knowledge and abilities needed in responding to a major disaster. Curriculum topics include radio procedures, traffic control, perimeter assistance, evacuation assistance, crime-scene preservation, an overview of the National Incident Management System, and basic critical incident stress management issues. Arizona plans to issue a "capabilities card" to trained AID volunteers. This card will list the approved AID courses the volunteer has completed, as well as other skills and abilities that might assist first responders. In order to ensure that AID volunteers retain and update their emergency-response knowledge and skills, refresher and updated courses are offered. AID volunteers are also trained to serve in volunteer reporting centers (VRCs) during a disaster. VRCs are designed to manage untrained volunteers who come to disaster sites to help. All such volunteers are directed to the VRC site for background checks and the training needed to perform specific tasks. AID volunteers are trained to create, operate, and dismantle a VRC at a disaster site. AID volunteers also speak to community groups about the importance of disaster preparedness. The Mesa Police Department (Arizona) has become a partner in the AID program, which has doubled the number of trained AID volunteers available to each department.