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""When disaster strikes, resources are often tight and coordination is vital.

By joining a disaster response organization and receiving the proper training before an emergency hits, you can support first responders and keep your community safe.

Well-meaning volunteers who show up to disaster sites unprepared and unassigned can make things more difficult for professional responders. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)  encourages residents to become trained volunteers who can help quickly in times of need. MEMA provides tips for getting involved in emergency preparedness and response with local organizations before disaster strikes.

Take CERT Disaster Preparedness Training

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) promotes a neighbors helping neighbors approach to emergency preparedness. Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training can prepare you to help your community before professional responders arrive. Classes cover basic response skills, including:

  • Fire safety
  • Team organization
  • Light search and rescue

There are more than 100 CERTs throughout Massachusetts, so check the website to find a CERT program near you.

Join a Volunteer Organization

One of the best ways you can prepare for an emergency is to register with a disaster response organization, including:

  • Medical Reserve Corps — The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is a national network of volunteers organized by local units. The MRC responds to emergencies that affect public health, such as natural disasters and disease outbreaks. Volunteers may be called in to assist with health screenings or vaccination efforts, or to provide administrative support. Visit the MRC website to learn about volunteering and find an MRC unit near you.
  • Massachusetts RespondsMA Responds is a statewide registration, credentialing, and notification system that works in partnership with local MRCs and response organizations across the Commonwealth. Being a part of MA Responds isn’t a commitment to respond to every disaster — it just indicates that you are willing to lend a hand in the event of a public health emergency. While a health care background is a plus, anyone who is interested in helping is encouraged to register for MA Responds.

For more volunteer opportunities, contact your local Emergency Management Director (EMD) or public safety officials.

During disasters, communities need trained volunteers. Leave a comment below or tweet @MassGov with questions about opportunities.

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