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Volunteers needed for local emergency drill in Mashpee

After disasters, well-meaning civic-minded volunteers will often swamp emergency relief agencies seeking an opportunity to help. In the past, this has led to agencies spending precious time trying to deal with the spontaneous volunteers instead of helping the victims.

This situation led to the creation of the Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) concept, an operation in which spontaneous, unaffiliated disaster volunteers are registered and referred to local agencies to assist with relief efforts.

On Cape Cod, the Cape Cod Citizen Corps Council has taken the lead in creating VRCs for Barnstable County. The goal is to have three centers for the County covering the Upper, Mid, and Lower Cape, providing an immediate staffing resource to fill a potentially critical volunteer need in times of emergency and disaster.

Last fall, the Council held a staff orientation and training session at the Mid Cape VRC located in the Open Cape building at the Barnstable County Complex. In the fall of 2015 a training session will be held for the Lower Cape at the Harwich Community Center.

In the near term, though, a training session will be held for the Upper Cape at the Mashpee Wampanoag Community and Government Center at 483 Great Neck Road South on April 29. Mashpee Wampanoag employees/staff and Elders are currently being recruited to staff this location. A staff orientation and training will take place in the morning followed by the Upper Cape VRC simulation drill in the afternoon.

Key to the training is the simulation drill where the staff members receive, welcome, handle, process, and place spontaneous “volunteers.” Training organizers are looking for volunteers to play the role of volunteers to exercise the Upper Cape VRC staff.

Volunteers, who must be 18 or older, will be needed from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29. They must be willing to spend between 30 to 60 minutes as a “walk-through volunteer applicant” responding to a regional emergency. To make the training more realistic, volunteers are asked, if possible, to assume the characteristics of someone other than themselves.

Robert Hendricks Sr., Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Emergency Manager and volunteer member with the Citizen Corp Council, said, “We are happy to be working with the Citizen Corps Council and hosting this training session at our Community and Government Center. Throughout our history, the Wampanoag people have helped others in dire emergencies and that’s what this is about.”

Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to contact Amy L. Alati, Chairperson of the Cape Cod Citizen Corps Council at 508-375-6908 or Email by April 28, 2015.