Volunteer Emergency Team (VET)
When disaster strikes, first responders such as firefighters, police officers and medical staff are on the job. But what happens when the dust settles and the clean-up begins? It then becomes the responsibility of dedicated volunteers to clear debris, distribute water and hand out blankets. Community members are needed to help coordinate these spontaneous volunteers. In Fairfax County, we look to our Volunteer Emergency Team (VET) to assist in coordinating these efforts. This group of dedicated individuals assists in an emergency by organizing and deploying volunteers to agencies through a clearing house known as a Volunteer Reception Center (VRC).
How it Works
A VRC is used to screen and assign spontaneous volunteers. The VRC is managed by Volunteer Fairfax (by activation of Fairfax County) and supported by VET members. Members provide support by helping set up a VRC and staff positions during VRC operations. Roles vary between administrative to logistics support.
The Volunteer Emergency Team are not first responders. They are volunteers who have made themselves available to be called on in the event they are needed for the County’s response and recovery effort. No emergency management/first-responder experience is required! Team members must be 18 year old to participate.
Mobilize, Manage, Disburse
After a disaster, the public wants to help. To organize this outpouring of goodwill and service, the county will open a center called a Volunteer Reception Center (VRC). When a VRC is activated, Volunteer Fairfax will assume the role of coordinating the public or ‘spontaneous volunteers’ who come forward to offer their assistance. The VET’s job will be to process these volunteers and match them to non-first-response needs in the community. VET members may also open shelters in the City of Fairfax, and assist in Points of Distribution to the community for disaster recovery needs.
Team members will have required training to be able to participate and stay involved in the team. Team members are important to volunteer management in a disaster and this commitment will demonstrate their willingness and availability for unpredictable events. This ongoing involvement will foster team building, increase knowledge and education about emergency and volunteer management and facilitate community preparedness outreach.
Team members will be required to complete the initial training (16.5 hours) within the first year of membership. Sign-up for these trainings can be found by searching “Volunteer Fairfax” on Eventbrite.com or by checking the monthly Blue Skies Report E-Newsletter. Online training is also required but members are given two years to complete. This training is available online or in person depending on the member’s preference.
VRC Training 1.0 and 2.0 will be held quarterly. Other events are typically held monthly, depending on availability of staff. Multiple events will allow for the team members to choose which best suit their time and interest, but keep them engaged and allow them to complete the required hours for membership. A brief sample of the events are as follows:
- Team members with their neighboring volunteer centers’ training to augment skills and build relationships.
- When local organizations have fairs, festivals or exercises team members will participate as appropriate.
- Team members will participate in virtual exercises when they are scheduled, at least once a year.
- Team members will take part in exercises hosted by Volunteer Fairfax and other organizations.
- Team members will participate in outreach to further their community involvement, encourage recruitment, and strengthen their training by working within the community.
A yearly calendar of events will be posted on Volunteer Fairfax’s Emergency Response page, and through the Volunteers for Change page. Team members will be able to sign up for that best fit their availability. Quarterly newsletters will be emailed regarding upcoming opportunities as well as ongoing online training.