Recruiting and retaining radio volunteers


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Presented at the 2007 Communications Academy

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Recruiting and retaining radio volunteers

  1. 1. Recruiting and RetainingRadio VolunteersHow to encourageparticipation in yourorganization.
  2. 2. About thePresenter• Sarah Miller– Emergency Preparedness Manager since March2006– Ham radio license since 1995– Faculty in Emergency Management at WesternWashington University and Jacksonville StateUniversity– Previously 911 dispatcher for 12 years– Previously SAR and Communications volunteer for 9years
  3. 3. The Basics• Every disaster requires morecommunication resources than we everhave available• Ham radios are the best source forreliable communications• Volunteers are the best source for hamradio operators
  4. 4. Find NewVolunteers• Contact existing license holders– Lookup by FCC database•• Can search by city, zip code, lat/long, other• Download into spreadsheet• Send personalized letters• Effective for targeting newly licensed hams– Recruit at swap meets– Post on Internet discussion boards– Recruit from clubs that don’t already haveemergency communications component
  5. 5. Create NewOperators• Offer information sessions, classes, exams• Recruit from existing emergency supportorganizations– Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)– Police Volunteers– Fire Volunteers– Other voluntary organizations• WAVOAD (Washington Voluntary Agencies Active inDisaster)
  6. 6. More NewOperators• Church organizations• Senior Centers• Service clubs• Youth activity groups– Schools– Clubs
  7. 7. Be Flexible• Be willing to involve people in youremergency communications plan even ifthey can’t attend meetings or otheractivities personally• Volunteers can be a valuable asset evenfrom their own homes.
  8. 8. Recruitment• Have a clear process for people tobecome volunteers– May be different for voluntary organizationsand government sponsored teams• Follow your process• Be clear about your expectations• Understand the volunteer’s skills,abilities, and interests
  9. 9. Sample RecruitProcess• Accept/process applications• Conduct background check• Interview potential volunteer– Clearly lay out expectations– Volunteer clearly spells out their interests• Issue team/organization ID• Invite to first meeting/training (if they’renot already attending)
  10. 10. Keep ExistingVolunteers• Find out what they want to do• Engage them in recruiting and mentoringnew volunteers.– New volunteers often need some guidance– Existing volunteers are usually ready toprovide it• Act on their suggestions, to the best ofyour ability
  11. 11. Manage All theVolunteers• Keep them engaged– Regular meetings– Training opportunities– Exercises as a team– Community involvement• There doesn’t have to be an emergency beforeyour team can go to work!– Recognition and encouragement• Include a hierarchy if appropriate
  12. 12. TrainingOpportunities• Train with other volunteer units in yourvicinity• Arrange for training classes on topicsrelated to your mission• Promote training classes being held byother organizations• Set standards for minimum and moreadvanced training qualifications
  13. 13. Radio SpecificTraining• ARRL Amateur Radio EmergencyCommunications Courses• Communications Academy• Orientation to your local 911 center• Create your own local net and practice regularly• Be involved in county, regional, state nets• Others (local and online)
  14. 14. Exercise• Exercises are the backbone of a strongteam• Create exercises for practice• Partner with other community events toassist them– They get communications, you get practice• Encourage your local EM agency to useyour members during disaster drills
  15. 15. Recognition andEncouragement• Make sure your volunteers arerecognized for the work they do– Newspaper articles– Certificates– Longevity– Team clothing– Recognition lunches/dinners• Encourage volunteers to find their nichein your organization
  16. 16. HappyVolunteers• Happy volunteers are the best way toencourage new volunteers• Know what makes your individual volunteershappy– Recognition– Training– Participation– Mentoring– Responsibility– Others
  17. 17. SpontaneousVolunteers• Spontaneous volunteers are the peopleyou’ve never heard from before who wantto help during a disaster• If you have a plan for dealing with them,they are a valuable resource• If you don’t have a plan, they can bringyour mission to a screeching halt• Have a plan, stick to it
  18. 18. Volunteer Stress• Stress among emergency responseworkers is a very real thing• Volunteers are just as susceptible• Make sure your volunteers are familiarwith it• Provide training on how to manage it• Unmitigated incident related stress willcause some of your volunteers to leaveand never come back
  19. 19. ConclusionKeep your volunteers engaged and activeand they will be happy and productive.
  20. 20. AdditionalResources• FEMA IS 244: Developing and Managing Volunteers• CitizenCorps Recruitment Tips• EMCOMM• Association for Public Safety Communications Officials
  21. 21. Contact InfoSarah K. Miller, MPAKC7LWUEmergency Preparedness ManagerCity of 876-1909