Volunteers key

Assistant Managing Editor
Auglaize County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) members continue to prepare for the possibility of a disaster and what might be needed.
New LEPC Secretary Don Jump said the volunteer Citizen Corps continues to work toward developing and tweaking a plan for a Volunteer Reception Center. The plan was tried out during a full-scale training exercise in June.
Jump said after that training, they are putting the final touches on the plan.
The purpose of such a reception center would be to greet volunteers responding to a disaster off-site and then routing them to the job best meeting their qualifications where they are needed based on reports from the field.
It’s a concept used in disasters across the state and nation for at least 10 years and something Auglaize County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Troy Anderson experienced first hand when assisting with hurricane relief.
Planning ahead, committee members developed forms, wrote procedures, and got plans in place for a volunteer reception center here as the need would arise.
“At least this way, we know what our immediate needs are and can get the commander in the field the resources he needs when he needs them,” Anderson said.
He said documentation used by the reception center also would track who helps where during a disaster and maintains that information to provide it quickly in the future as needed.
“During our last meeting, we thought it through, walked through the steps, and thought about the issues that we could think of to help tweak it,” Jump said.
Jump said he would like to walk through the plan with an exercise to further try out its effectiveness.
“This is a way to manage volunteers who want to help,” Jump said. “This plan would help overcome issues of the world we live in.”
Anderson said they also are working to keep a constant team of volunteers up on the necessary training.
“We have different ideas for credentialing,” Anderson said of plans to meet on a monthly basis.
The county’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), which Jump coordinates, also continues to be active, although funding cuts at the national level are expected to have an impact here.
“There are a lot of changes with MRC at the national level,” Jump said. “Funding is obviously being cut in a lot of areas. We’ll take whatever funds are available. I hope the grants we have now will continue to support us for a while.”
Jump said the funding cuts require more volunteers to do the work, while also placing more requirements and qualifications on the volunteers.
Jump is looking for ways to keep the MRC as user friendly as possible.