Make a Difference in Your Community
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.
Disaster Cycle Services Overview
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.
Here are some of the ways you can serve your community before, during and after disasters.
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.
Pillowcase Project Presenter Fundamentals
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.
Help communities in the U.S. cope with disasters.
Example: Everyday DMH volunteers throughout the U.S. provide emotional support and crisis intervention to disaster survivors impacted by all types of disaster; from single family fires to large national disasters.
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.
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
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
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.
Online Training Modules
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 is a basic level, self-paced web-based course for individuals 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 disaster relief operation and identifies the next steps to become a Disaster Mental Health volunteer. The course takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. Disaster Mental Health Introduction is a required course for Disaster Mental Health volunteers and a pre-requisite for Disaster Mental Health Fundamentals: Part 1.
Student Curriculum for American Red Cross Disaster Health Services
The purpose of this course is to prepare participants to provide Disaster Health Services on a local or large-scale disaster response. These services take place in shelters, emergency aid stations, on outreach teams and while performing outreach or just in time response. This curriculum is a two-part course (3 web-based modules and in-class simulation) that offers Nursing students and other pre-licensure health professionals an overview of the services that Disaster Health Services workers provide on a local or large-scale disaster response. The students will be introduced to the American Red Cross disaster mission and Disaster Health Services. This curriculum gives an overview of the valuable health response in the community setting within the United States. The settings discussed in this curriculum do not include the acute care or emergency department response.
For more information or to schedule the course, contact DHSstudent@redcross.org.