Although Americans enjoy relative security in their everyday lives, the threat of emergencies, such as natural disasters, technological accidents and acts of terrorism, remains. Unfortunately, many people and organizations do not adequately plan for such situations, usually because of fear or lack of knowledge about how to do so. The job of Emergency Managers is to better prepare the city in which they live and work. But they cannot do that alone. In Rhode Island, the Providence Emergency Management Agency is asking for the help of citizen volunteers.

The Providence Emergency Management Agency has announced the introduction of two new volunteer programs to aide in the preparedness of the capital city and motivate citizens of the community to become more involved. The programs are in coordination with the Get Ready RI campaign to increase disaster emergency volunteerism in the state as well as in preparation for the kickoff of National Volunteer Week from April 27th to May 3rd, 2008.

The Providence Emergency Management Agency has revitalized an innovative plan to incorporate the citizens of local communities into emergency preparedness, response and recovery efforts by developing the Emergency Volunteer Services (EVS) Program. This plan strategically identifies the several opportunities within the agency, application requirements, expectations and the benefits of becoming a volunteer. Through the integration of the EVS Program and a broad recruitment effort, the Agency plans to exponentially increase its volunteer base from its current status.

Becoming a volunteer is easy and training is free. Citizens of all ages are encouraged to apply. Perspective volunteers can visit the Ready RI Volunteer Fair at the CCRI Liston Campus on April 19th, 2008, from 10am-2pm.

Several opportunities are available for volunteers with the agency. The first available opportunity is as an Emergency Shelter Volunteer, a program created in partnership with PEMA and the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Red Cross. Volunteers will be trained in emergency shelter operations, mass sheltering, mass feeding, and psychology assistance. Individuals will be on-call as Red Cross volunteers and in the event of a large-scale weather event, disaster or emergency will be contacted to assist in shelter operation.

The second available volunteer program is the Providence Community Emergency Response Team or CERT. CERT members will form localized teams around the city of Providence to be ready to assist public service departments with mission specific tasks if called upon. Training for duty will include emergency preparedness, fire safety, advanced first-aid and search and rescue.