Disaster Volunteer Reception Center (VRC)
What is a Volunteer Reception Center (VRC)?
In a disaster, a Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) may be setup to organize volunteers. The VRC is a vital part of managing the numerous volunteers who respond to assist those in need. It acts as a staging area to process and dispatch volunteer teams to the affected disaster areas.
The VRC connects volunteers with public safety (fire and police) and local leaders. All VRC-organized volunteer teams perform work as needed by the local incident command to support the emergency response and recovery effort. VRC's do not control the incident, they only provide support in the way of volunteers and donated goods and services.
Who should go to the VRC?
Everyone who wants to volunteer after a disaster should visit the VRC to register and get an assignment. This includes both spontaneous volunteers (people who just want to help out after an incident has happened) as well as pre-trained CERT and Citizen Corps volunteers. All disaster volunteers should be processed through a Volunteer Reception Center (VRC).
What do I need to bring with me?
The most important thing to bring with you while you volunteer is a good attitude. There will be a lot of people who want to help. Not everyone will be able to volunteer at the actual emergency site. Some people will be asked to help by assisting support groups by sorting donated relief supplies. You may be told that there are already enough volunteers working on the incident and asked to wait at home for more information. The most important thing to remember is that it takes everyone working together to get the community back on its feet. Sometimes this means waiting or helping out in the background.
If you have any special equipment you would like to use, such as a chainsaw or tractor, please make sure you bring all supplies necessary, such as fuel and safety equipment. Make sure only properly-trained operators are using special equipment. Since you are volunteering, you will not be paid or reimbursed for any services you may perform.
If you are going to volunteer during an emergency, and a VRC has been setup to process volunteers, please bring a completed Volunteer Registration Form and Liability Waiver with you to the VRC. These forms are available by using the download links at the bottom of this page.
Make sure you bring appropriate attire for work you may be doing:
- Comfortable closed-toe shoes like boots or sneakers - NO flip-flops or sandals
- A hat and sunglasses, as well as sunscreen
- Good work gloves
- Long pants or blue jeans - NO shorts
- Bring any medications or snacks you may need while working
- Make sure you have an up-to-date tetanus shot
- If you have allergies, bring your allergy medicine since you may be working outdoors
How have VRC's been used in the past? How can I get training?
During the response to the April 27, 2011 tornado, the Volunteer Reception Centers in Calhoun County registered and put to work over 4,000 volunteers The Citizen Corps Program has established a Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) rapid response team through a partnership with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and Calhoun County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD).
If you are interested in receiving VRC training in advance of a disaster, please contact the Calhoun County EMA at (256) 435-0540.
Disaster Volunteer Reception Center Walkthrough Video
This video is from Fairfax, Virginia, but the VRC process demonstrated is the same as what is used in Calhoun County.