managing volunteers in crisis situations

4 12 2008

The state of California is known for pushing the boundaries of what is normal, and sometimes in an immoral way.  But not all change is bad.  California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has created a cabinet-level post to manage volunteers.  This sounds like a great idea, one that should’ve been thought of years ago.

We realized when Hurricane Katrina hit that the U.S. government cannot manage big disasters.  They can throw money at the problems, but without the necessary people and resources, that money gets wasted.  The normal first responders to emergencies like policemen and firefighters make up less than 1% of the population.  That’s enough for normal situations, but when whole cities or counties are in a crisis, that’s not nearly enough.  When there’s a widespread catastrophe — like hurricanes, multiple tornadoes, flooding, earthquakes — those emergency forces get spread too thin.

So this new post is designed to manage volunteers.  Think of how much better emergencies can be handled when the average citizen knows what to do and can be directed by leadership on where to go.  Obviously, creating this post is only a start, but it seems like a step in the right direction.  There will be other catastrophies, and we should be more prepared in the future…

FYI, this sounds like a better idea than deploying 20,000 troops in America (which we discussed yesterday), although expanding and revamping FEMA and the National Guard should probably be the first steps.  But training volunteers sounds like it would be very beneficial also.

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