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  Case Study: Mutual Aid Volunteer Registry  

In the event of a local, regional or statewide catastrophic event, it is critical for emergency workers to have the ability to quickly deploy volunteers by geographical location and skill set and to verify the identity and credentials of those volunteers.

It is human nature to want to help when a disaster happens. The challenge is getting the right people, with the right skills, to the right place. In the chaos that follows a tragic event it can be impossible to verify the identity of volunteers or to even prove they are qualified to assist. Too many well-intentioned volunteers who lack credentials, or who show up at the wrong place, can overwhelm the system, even becoming refugees of the disaster themselves. Many events require personnel with highly specialized skills and quickly finding a qualified individual is critical: quite literally a matter of life and death.

To complicate the challenge of an effective Mutual Aid System, facilities within a state’s commercial health care network must share resource data, not only with internal users, but also with their competitors--something most are reluctant to do.

Working closely with the states of Utah and Montana and in partnership with the commercial health care networks Gold Systems developed a robust Volunteer Management System, a component of each states larger Health Information Resource Management System. The volunteer management module allows for advance registration of health professionals and other volunteers, including Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and the American Red Cross. In the event of a local, regional, or statewide catastrophic event, a centralized notification system alerts registered volunteers, based on skill set and geographical location. Administrators can obtain verifiable, up-to-date information about the volunteer’s identity, licenses and then schedule these volunteers for deployment through an automated deployment management system.

Special attention was given to system security, access roles, data access logs and processes to alleviate concerns about resource data sharing among health care facilities. During a disaster, facilities have open access to human resource information; at all other times,

The Volunteer Registry has proven to be a critical timesaver and organizational tool in the development of a disaster management program. In mock events, the Volunteer Registry has been utilized to quickly deploy volunteers with specific skills to the appropriate location and then to verify their identification.

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