If volunteering as a Disaster Health or Disaster Mental Health professional interests you, great! As a first step, please review the criteria to find out if you're eligible:
If you meet the eligibility criteria for Disaster Health Services OR Disaster Mental Health, please apply now!
What is the American Red Cross Health Professional Direct Deployment Process?
The Health Professional Direct Deployment Process is one tactic the Red Cross may employ to recruit new Disaster Mental Health (DMH) and Disaster Health Services (DHS) volunteers to deploy to large disaster operations. When the Health Professional Direct Deployment Process is activated, new Disaster Health Services and Disaster Mental Health volunteers who are not currently affiliated with the Red Cross are recruited for rapid deployment through national, state and local organizations and partnerships. The Health Professional Direct Deployment Process is only activated on large operations when the anticipated need for Disaster Health Services and Disaster Mental Health volunteers is greater than the Red Cross’s capacity and the capacity of our current local partners.
Through the Direct Deployment Process, professionals who are eligible to support Disaster Mental Health or Disaster Health Services (but who are not currently Red Cross volunteers) are able to deploy as Red Cross volunteers for the current response. On-boarding and training will be provided before volunteers travel.
What are the qualifications required for this opportunity?
Qualified volunteers must meet the eligibility criteria for either Disaster Health Services or Disaster Mental Health volunteers (see below) and must meet the required time commitments outlined at the top of this page .
o Disaster Health Services Volunteer Eligibility Criteria
o Disaster Mental Health Volunteer Eligibility Criteria
What type of work will I be doing on the operation?
Both Disaster Health Services and Disaster Mental Health volunteers will likely work in emergency shelters or on outreach teams in the community. You will work directly with disaster-affected clients in both of these settings. Keep in mind, you could be assigned to another work location once you arrive on scene depending on the needs of the operation.
Disaster Health Services volunteers:
o Address the unmet disaster-related health needs of impacted individuals, families and communities
o Provide hands on care within RN-led model
o Provide health assessments and guidance to clients
o Provide assistance with replacement of medication, durable medical equipment, glasses, dentures and other medical supplies
o Support individuals with disabilities and functional and access needs
o Supplement the community healthcare delivery system if needed
Disaster Mental Health volunteers:
o Listen to and talk with disaster-impacted clients about their experiences, stress levels and coping skills.
o Assess the reactions, risk factors and resilience factors of disaster-impacted clients.
o Provide Psychological First Aid and psychoeducation as appropriate.
o Provide targeted interventions as needed, including crisis intervention and community referrals.
Your Regional Health Professional Deployment Coach will provide more details about the work once your application is processed.
Am I guaranteed to deploy to the current operation?
We will do our best to match staffing needs with each volunteer’s availability, but of course we cannot guarantee deployment within any one person’s available timeframe.
What are the next steps in the process?
Once you complete a volunteer application, you will be contacted by a Regional Health Professional Deployment Coach within one week. These coaches are all current Red Cross Disaster Health Services or Disaster Mental Health volunteers. Your coach will go over more details about the disaster operation and the work you will likely be doing and will let you decide whether this is the right opportunity for you to pursue at this time. At any stage, there is no pressure to continue with the process if you do not feel confident that this is the right opportunity for you.
If you decide to proceed with this opportunity, your coach will send you a follow-up email outlining your next steps. These include entering your dates of availability in the Volunteer Connection system and completing multiple required online trainings (totaling 4-5 hours). Your Deployment Coach will be available to support you if you encounter any issues along the way or if you have specific questions about deployment.
When your upcoming availability matches a staff request from the disaster operation, you will be contacted, asked to complete a short health questionnaire, informed of any additional deployment steps and assigned to the disaster operation. Once you are assigned, you are expected to book your travel right away and begin your travel within 24 hours of being assigned. Again, your Deployment Coach will be available to support you and answer any questions along the way.
How much advance notice will I receive once I am assigned to the operation?
Do to the fast-paced nature of the operation, volunteers are expected to travel within 24 hours of being assigned to the operation. Once training is complete, volunteers can work with their assigned Regional Health Professional Deployment Coach to communicate windows of availability to deploy.
What if I need to give my employer advanced notice?
We understand that employers may need advanced notice to provide you time off. However, we are not able to guarantee that you will deploy on a specific day or week. We do not recommend you take off specific days from work before you are assigned for deployment since you may not end up deploying during the window of time you took off. If possible, please encourage your employer to be flexible given the constantly-changing nature of disaster operations. If your employer is not able to grant you time off without multiple days or weeks of advanced notice, deployment may not be the right fit for you. Instead we encourage you to contact your local Red Cross chapter and get involved locally.
Do I have to pay for my own transportation to the operation?
The American Red Cross pays for travel expenses while volunteers are deployed, including flight, rental car, lodging, food, etc.
How much time will I be away from home?
Volunteers more than 50 miles away from the operation are expected to deploy for 7 working days. Volunteers committing to a 7-day deployment (with a travel day on each end) are expected to work all seven days and will not be eligible for a day off during their deployment. If a volunteer commits to a longer deployment, he/she will be eligible for a day off after working seven days. Details can be worked out on the operation with the supervisor
Volunteers within 50 miles from the operations headquarters are encouraged to speak to their Regional Health Professional Deployment Coach (once their application is processed) to learn more this local opportunity.
While on the operation, will I have my own car?
Volunteers will likely share rental cars or be dependent on group transportation.
Where will I stay while deployed?
You will likely sleep in a staff shelter during your deployment. This means you will be given a military-style cot and a small amount of personal space within a large room such as a school gymnasium, church hall or other building in the community. Other Red Cross responders will sleep in the staff shelter as well. Bathrooms and showers will be provided.
Your Regional Health Professional Deployment Coach will provide more details about the accommodations for this particular disaster operation once your application is processed. They can answer any questions you have about staff shelters as well.
Can my family come with me?
It is not appropriate for Red Cross responders to bring family or friends with them on deployment. The Red Cross cannot provide travel arrangements, housing or food for anyone who is not a Red Cross disaster responder.
What if I’m not available to deploy until a month from now?
While we cannot guarantee that we will need disaster responders in a month, it is possible that the disaster operation could still be going on at that time. Therefore if you are interested in this opportunity and you qualify, we recommend you complete an application and go through the training and onboarding steps so you are ready to deploy if we need you.