International Disaster Responders

  • Red Cross woman feeding a baby in a first aid shelter at a disaster site
The American Red Cross maintains an international disaster roster, which deploys trained personnel in support of disaster response operations overseas.

When Does the American Red Cross Deploy International Disaster Responders?

The American Red Cross plays a different role in international crises than when the disaster occurs in the United States. Most country’s Red Cross organizations have their own staff and volunteers who are trained and prepared to respond and manage even large-scale disaster operations. We provide aid in other countries only after the local Red Cross organization requests assistance from its partners within our global network. On average, the American Red Cross deploys only 20 to 30 people each year in response to international disasters.

Who Can Be an International Disaster Responder?

International disaster responders have technical skills in one or more sectors (see below). Preferably these technical skills have been developed and utilized in an emergency response context.

Required Skills:

  • Emergency relief: Disaster management, rapid needs assessments, beneficiary targeting, distribution planning and management.
  • Shelter: Shelter needs assessment and program design implementation and coordination in emergency and non-emergency setting; and planning for and provision of tarps, tents, iron sheeting and simple construction.
  • Cash transfer programming: Cash or voucher based program delivery (in humanitarian sector); emergency market mapping analysis; accounting and finance; program design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.
  • Information technology and telecommunications: Installation of communications equipment (radios, repeaters, satellite phones, VSAT); design, installation, and maintenance of network infrastructure; support for computer workstations and network applications; and global positioning systems (GPS).
  • Information and reporting: Coordination and analysis of data; and report preparation, writing, and dissemination.
  • Finance and administration: Computerized accounting, finance and budget management, financial reporting, property management, human resources services, and administrative procedures.
  • Logistics: Requisition, procurement, customs clearance, commodity tracking, stock control, warehousing, and transportation.

Prior field experience is also required. Members of our roster must have two years’ worth of experience overseas in a volunteer or professional context, or at least three national- or international-level disaster response deployments. Potential candidates must also possess personal attributes such as diplomacy, teamwork and problem-solving skills, cultural sensitivity, tolerance, flexibility, and the ability to function effectively in a demanding and often rugged environment.

Potential candidates must also be available on short notice for a minimum of four-week assignments, as well as available for annual training and refresher courses. Foreign language skills—Spanish, French, or Arabic—and affiliation with the Red Cross in the U.S. or in another country are also strongly preferred.

How to Join

Anyone who possesses the required skills and attributes and is interested in becoming an international disaster response roster member must apply for the week-long International Mobilization and Preparation for Action (IMPACT) training. IMPACT is a requirement for international deployments and inclusion on the roster. Approximately 20 percent of applicants are accepted into this highly competitive course. IMPACT is offered based on need, at least once a year. Approximately 20 participants are accepted into the course each time it is offered. See the IMPACT Training Overview for further information about the course.