Volunteer Center Response Plan


Volunteer Center Response Plan


Section Contents
I. Purpose
II. Assumptions
III. Types of Emergencies
IV. Activation of Plan
V. Incident Command System
VI. Staffing Positions, Assignments, and Command Structure
VII. Emergency Procedures (internal plan)
VIII. Volunteer Center Operations (external plan)
IX. Staffing Policies and Procedures
X. Resource Lists
XI. Forms
XII. Maps
A. Appendices


TheVolunteer Center of ** Disaster Plan describes how the Volunteer Center functions during and following a major disaster and defines the roles and responsibilities of staff. The plan outlines the way in which the Volunteer Center carries out its primary disaster function which is to coordinate the deployment of emergent volunteers for disaster response and recovery. It also includes steps to be followed in the event of damage to the Volunteer Center.


In the event of a major disaster in the Bay Area, the Volunteer Center may suffer injuries to personnel, property loss, and impairment to utilities and communications systems. We have been advised that for up to 72 hours, or even longer, emergency services (police, fire, ambulance) may not be available. Because teamwork is critical for effective response to an emergency situation, all employees of the Volunteer Center are automatically on the disaster team.


Earthquakes - The hazard posing the greatest threat to the community and to the Volunteer Center's operations is an earthquake which could cause widespread devastation to the entire Bay Area. Experts warn that a major earthquake can be expected in the foreseeable future. Effects could include major road closures, extensive damage to structures, loss of public utilities, and multiple injuries and deaths. The demands upon public safety agencies will be overwhelming. Non-public responders such as the Volunteer Center will play a major role in recovery.


The plan will be activated by the Executive Director, Disaster Coordinator or other designated staff member, when a disaster occurs significant enough to cause damage to the Volunteer Center or within the geographical area served by the Volunteer Center. The plan may also be activated upon declaration of a local emergency by the county Office of Emergency Services (OES), or by request from the American Red Cross, another Bay Area Volunteer Center, or The Volunteerism Project.


Insofar as feasible, this plan follows the principles and features of the Incident Command System (ICS). Used by emergency response organizations throughout the state, ICS is an effective model for centralized management. It clearly defines staff roles and responsibilities and lines of communications. In the ICS model the base of operations for response to a disaster (incident) is the Command Center.

Incident Commander - Upon activation of the plan, the Executive Director becomes the Incident Commander and is in charge overall. The Incident Commander will establish the Command Center and initiate the ICS. In the absence of the Executive Director, the highest-ranking staff member present becomes the Incident Commander and remains so until relieved by a higher-ranking staff or the Executive director.

Command Center - The Command Center will be the Volunteer Center's offices located at ****. If that facility is unsafe or cannot be made operational, the Command Center will be established at one of the following alternate sites: ******


The Volunteer Center follows the Incident Command System for designating functions and assigning staff. Positions include:

These positions are pre-assigned to staff; assignments are noted in the chart on page 5. A single staff person may serve multiple functions if the workload is light or if there are not enough staff to allocate singly to functions.

Staffing Position Responsibilities

Incident Commander

Public Information Officer

Safety Officer

Liaison Officer

Operations Officer

Planning Officer

Logistics Officer

Finance Officer

VII. EMERGENCY PROCEDURES (coordinated by Safety Officer)

Earthquake Checklist

Fire Checklist

Evacuate immediately.
**** will account for all staff. Phone 9-1-1.
Phone as soon as possible. Shut off gas if needed (meter located *****).
If odor of gas is present (check outside as well as inside), get gas shut-off wrench from disaster supplies and shut off gas. Notify other building tenants (if appropriate). Items to take:
If possible, retrieve back-up computer disks and important papers (these items should always be ready to go). Damage Assessment
Conduct detailed damage assessment as soon as possible and photograph or video damage.

Office Evacuation Plan

Where to Meet after Evacuation

Under What Conditions Office Will Be Evacuated

Office/Building Floor Plan

Disaster Equipment and Supplies (list)

NOTE: Disaster equipment and supplies are stored in ****.

Staff Notification Procedures

Communications Systems

VIII. VOLUNTEER CENTER OPERATIONS (coordinated by Operations Officer)

Phone Bank - The Volunteer Center will establish a clearinghouse for people who want to volunteer and for agencies requesting volunteer assistance. The first priority, once staff and facility safety are secured, will be to set up a Phone Bank operation. Callers will be using both the Volunteer Center's main number and the 800# to call in. The volume of calls may require the installation of additional phone lines.

Volunteer Reception Center - In some cases, the Volunteer Center may set up and manage a Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) instead of or in addition to the Phone Bank. The VRC is not dependent on phones and is therefore an option when phones are not working. Both the Phone Bank and VRC will be managed by the Operations Officer.

Volunteer Data Base - It is important from the beginning to enter into the computer basic information about volunteers. At the very least, it will provide a record of how many people called, what their skills were, and where they were referred. It will also make it easier to identify and call back volunteers with special skills or those that couldn't immediately be referred.

Researching Agency Needs - Ideally, the Volunteer Center will have collected information in advance of the disaster from agencies likely to need volunteers. However, this information will need to be updated with details on time, place, supervision, etc. Also, many agencies will not have anticipated disaster-related needs, but will have them nevertheless. All pertinent information about agency needs should also be entered into a computerized data base so it can be printed out in various formats.

The Agency Disaster Volunteer Job form (see Section XI. FORMS) is used to log requests. Staff can take the information over the phone, receive it by fax, or get it in person by delivery or pick-up. Generally, these kinds of needs can be expected to emerge:

Checklists - See the following checklists for setting up the Phone Bank and setting up and managing a Volunteer Reception Center. See the appendix for supplemental operations checklists on the Phone Bank, Volunteer Reception Center, and data entry procedures.

Phone Bank Set-up Procedures

Volunteer Reception Center Set-up Procedures

Managing the Volunteer Reception Center (VRC)


Employees - Every Volunteer Center employee is a disaster response worker and is expected to work at any time when the Volunteer Center activates this disaster plan (see Section IV. ACTIVATION OF PLAN). It is expected that all employees will work in their assigned disaster response roles after they have assessed the welfare of their families and the safety of their surroundings. Readiness to assume these roles will be facilitated by staff's prior development of personal and household disaster preparedness plans.

During Normal Business Hours - All employees on site at the time of the disaster are expected to assist with implementation of this plan. As soon as they are able, those not on site are expected to report in to the **** office to determine whether and when they will be needed for staffing.

Outside Normal Business Hours - When a disaster occurs during non-business hours, the Executive Director will contact the Disaster Coordinator (staff disaster team leader) as soon as possible to determine what steps are to be taken. Either one may activate the disaster plan if any of the activation conditions are met (see Section IV). The Executive Director and/or Disaster Coordinator will contact other employees as needed to provide adequate staffing for the Volunteer Center. Employees are expected to communicate with the **** office as soon as feasible and to respond to requests for staffing help. Employees should tune in to radio station *** and listen for emergency broadcast information.

Volunteers - The Volunteer Center welcomes trained volunteers to assist in its disaster response activities. Trained volunteers are those who have completed the Volunteer Center's disaster training program, or who are determined by the Disaster Coordinator to have comparable training and experience. If authorized by OES to administer, have all volunteers complete a Disaster Services Worker form.

Staffing Shifts and Breaks - The maximum shift for any employee or volunteer is eight hours. Each worker will receive and must take at least one ten-minute break every two hours. If any employee is asked to work more than 8 hours in a 24-hour time period, the Volunteer Center's personnel policies regarding overtime for exempt and non-exempt employees will apply. All decisions regarding overtime work (beyond 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week) for non-exempt Volunteer Center employees must be approved in advance by the Volunteer Center Executive Director or person designated as Acting Executive Director.

Procedures -

  1. No person works alone; a minimum of two staff must be onsite at all times.
  2. The office will not open to the public in the morning until two staff are present.
  3. The last two people in the office will lock up and leave the building together.
  4. If the Center is open longer than 8.5 hours per day, staff must be scheduled in overlapping shifts.
  5. A rest area away from the other activities will be designated.
  6. Each employee and volunteer will sign in and out each day so that an accurate record of hours can be maintained.


Staff List (insert)
Disaster Volunteer List (insert)
Agencies Contact List (insert)
Volunteer Resources (insert)


Volunteer Intake (insert)
Agency Request (insert)
Daily Volunteer Sign In (insert)
Daily Staff Sign In (insert)
Staff Notes Log (insert)
Disaster Services Worker (insert)


County (noting location of OES, ARC)
Cities (noting location of OES, ARC)
Volunteer Center Floor Plan
Volunteer Reception Center Layout

Appendix A.

Resolution By Volunteer Center Board Of Directors (insert)
Memoranda Of Understanding (insert)
Bay Area Volunteer Centers Mutual Assistance Plan (insert)

Appendix B.

Interviewing Disaster Volunteers at the Phone Bank

Interviewing Disaster Volunteers at the Volunteer Reception Center

Data Entry Procedures (Volunteers)

Data Entry Procedures (Agencies)

Appendix C.

Tips on Effective Management of Disaster Volunteers

Appendix D.


  1. Assess Center's capability to function, including:
  2. Implement contingency plans, including request for mutual assistance.
  3. Follow notification procedure (to be established), e.g., notify TVP, Red Cross, media.
  4. Arrange for staffing of phone bank.
  5. Set up and operate phone bank.
  6. If needed, open and/or manage onsite or off-site Volunteer Reception Center(s) for walk-in volunteers.
  7. Contact agencies regarding their needs, by phone or in person.
  8. Collect data on volunteers and enter on computer.
  9. Collect agency requests and enter on computer.
  10. Follow status report procedure (to be established).
  11. Respond to requests from other Volunteer Centers for mutual assistance.

If you would like more information email us at: [email protected]