The American Red Cross relies on volunteers to the help prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies. Volunteers make up over 90 percent of the Disaster workforce and make it possible to respond to nearly 70,000 disasters every year, most of them home and apartment fires. Disaster volunteers also provide preparedness services and information before disaster strikes and assist those who have experienced a disaster with their recovery.
Find out how you can serve in your community by searching for current volunteer opportunities.
The American Red Cross provides FREE disaster training for all volunteers. Trainings are both online and in-person depending on the course. To find out more about these training opportunities please contact your local Red Cross office.
This course is the first in the Disaster Cycle Services course curriculum. It provides an overview of how DCS fulfills the Red Cross mission and describes the whole cycle process of helping individuals, families and communities to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. The course also reviews the role of community and government partners and describes opportunities for volunteers in Disaster Cycle Services.
Join Your Local Disaster Action Team (DAT)
Disaster Action Teams are the first to respond to all disasters and events within the community.
Example: A home in your neighborhood has just caught on fire. Along with the Fire Department, the local Red Cross Disaster Action Team responds. The team works with those affected to ensure they have a safe place to stay and a plan for moving forward after the fire.
Teach Children About Preparedness
Educate individuals and groups on how to be prepared before a disaster occurs.
Example: In partnership with Disney, the Red Cross has launched The Pillowcase Project to educate youth in classrooms across America. Become a Pillowcase instructor and help us prepare our nation’s youth for the next disaster.
The Pillowcase Project Presenter Fundamentals course is designed to prepare and certify volunteers and employees to present The Pillowcase Project to 3rd through 5th grade students (ages 8-11). Module 1 consists of a careful review of The Pillowcase Project classroom presentation, including the tools and resources used in the presentation and ideas for presenting to children. In Module 2, participants will enhance the instructional techniques learned in the Basic Instructor Fundamentals course through a practice teaching session with other participants and will receive feedback and coaching provided by the instructor and their peers.
Participate in the Smoke Alarm Installation Campaign
Help us prevent injury and saves lives by leading or participating on a team to help us ensure install smoke alarms in homes across America.
Example: The Smoke Alarm Installation Campaign is a nationwide effort. Working with local community partners and fire departments, Red Cross volunteer teams canvass at-risk neighborhoods and install life-saving smoke alarms.
Deliver Response Services
Provide food, shelter, comfort and home for families affected by major disasters such as fire, hurricanes, floods and tornadoes.
Example: After a local flood, Red Cross volunteers open a shelter at a nearby school to provide their neighbors with a safe place to stay and resources to help them plan for their next steps.
Shelter Fundamentals is a basic level course that introduces the guidelines and procedures for setting up, running and closing a shelter during a disaster. Referencing shelter checklists, participants will work on a case study that takes them through four of the six phases of the Sheltering Cycle: Opening, Organizing, Operating and Closing. Shelter Fundamentals is available in two delivery formats, instructor-led and online. Both formats cover the same content.
Provide Recovery Services
Provide casework and recovery planning services to those who have been affected by a recent event.
Example: A day after a multi-unit apartment fire, caseworkers reach out to those who have been affected and work with them to plan their next steps.
This course gives learners practice in applying knowledge and skills outlined in Casework and Recovery Planning Standards and Procedures and the Client Interview and Assistance Job Tool. Participants will be able to effectively assist clients in developing personalized recovery plans, supporting clients in problem-solving, providing referrals to other organizations, advocating on behalf of a client with a third party, such as a landlord, and connecting clients to services provided by health and disaster mental health practitioners.
Assist with volunteer recruitment, placement, record keeping and recognition.
Example: After a large disaster, hundreds of new volunteers come to the local Red Cross office. Help us make sure these volunteers find meaningful opportunities to serve.
Teach Our Courses
Become a certified Basic Instructor by completing the certification process, which includes coursework and the support of Chapter-affiliated Advanced Instructors.
Basic Instructor Fundamentals is a web-based course that prepares instructor candidates to teach basic level disaster courses. This course replaces the Fundamentals of Instruction and Facilitation course. It is designed for all potential instructors, whether they have had any prior training experience or not. It offers a basic understanding of instruction, but does not provide the opportunity to immediately step into an instruction role.
Represent the Red Cross
During disasters, help tell the Red Cross story to your community by serving as a member of our Public Affairs team.
Public Affairs Essentials is a basic level, web-based course. The course provides a general overview for Red Cross volunteers and employees who may have contact with traditional media, or use social engagement sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Welcome to Disaster Training! Please feel free to take the courses listed on this page to see if becoming a disaster responder is something you would like to consider. Should you decide to affiliate with your local chapter, we have provided a printable certificate that you can submit to your chapter to receive credit. Click here and enter your zip code to find your local Red Cross chapter.
Disaster Mental Health: Introduction
Disaster Mental Health: Introduction is a web-based course for credentialed professionals who are interested in becoming Red Cross Disaster Mental Health responders. The course presents an overview of the services that Disaster Mental Health responders provide both on a local response and on a large disaster relief operation and identifies the next steps to becoming a volunteer. The course takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. Disaster Mental Health: Introduction is currently NOT a required course for Disaster Mental Health volunteers but it is strongly encouraged that interested volunteers take the course before moving forward with additional trainings.
Disaster Health and Sheltering for Nursing Students
Disaster Health and Sheltering for Nursing Students is a two part, web-based course designed to introduce nursing students to the role of health and functional support needs In Red Cross Disaster Shelters. The course presents an overview of the scope of practice for licensed health care providers in a shelter, and prepares nursing students to assist in a supporting role should their community need their help. It also introduces students to the Red Cross history and various roles nurses play as volunteers. Part One is self-study, on-line and can be completed within 60-90 minutes. Part Two, for which nursing faculty must register, is taught by a Red Cross Disaster Health Services RN in the classroom and is a web-based table top exercise, taking approximately two hours. The training meets standards for Homeland Security level courses and is HSEEP certified. It is recommended for inclusion in community health curriculum; interested students are strongly encouraged to become Red Cross volunteers.