Over the years I have volunteered for various organizations. When I first started my career in the fire service, I started as a volunteer and this original experience taught me the importance of volunteerism. One of the most rewarding volunteer experiences is when I traveled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010. I will forever remember this humbling experience.
I had the unique opportunity to deploy to Haiti with a team of doctors, nurses and firefighters from all over the world. I spent ten days on the ground in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, assisting our team of health care professionals with the logistical needs of setting up mobile care clinics. Some of the remote locations of the mobile care clinics were orphanages and schools. Due to the devastation from the earthquake our team of firefighters had to carry all of the items needed for our team to conduct these clinics.
I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to teach at some of the schools regarding earthquake safety. During these teaching sessions, I stressed the importance of having an emergency plan. Having a safe location for everyone to assemble at during an emergency. These teaching sessions wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the excellent translators that were available to translate for our team. Some of these translators would walk ten miles per day for the opportunity to translate for our team.
The last day of my deployment, I had the opportunity to “scrub in” as an operating room technician at the Hopital Adventiste d'Haiti. This was also one of the most humbling moments of my entire life. In the operating room, I assisted a group of surgeons from Italy and Greece with Doctors without Borders. I was extremely exhausted on the last day of this deployment. To this day I am not sure how I found the energy and the determination to keep going to serve the Haitian people.
You don’t have to travel to a third world country to become a volunteer. You can volunteer in your local community. Prior to my deployment to Haiti, I had the opportunity to volunteer in the emergency department at my local hospital. I have also had the opportunity to volunteer at my local community college as a skills coach for the emergency medical technician program. There are many more organizations that are in need of volunteers.
Do you want to make a real difference? Become a volunteer and serve in your community. Learn first hand the importance of volunteerism. I will forever be a volunteer throughout my public safety career. Please join me and seek opportunities to serve your local community as a volunteer. Contact your local disaster relief agency through your county and or state if you are interested in becoming a disaster relief volunteer.
For more information on volunteer organizations, please visit the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster website: http://www.nvoad.org