Over the years I have volunteered for various organizations. When I first started my career in the fire service, I began 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 healthcare 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 weren’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 experience 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. Before my deployment to Haiti, I had the opportunity to volunteer in the emergency department at my local hospital. I have also had a chance 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: National Voluntary Organizations Active In Disaster
Photo Credits: Author
Chris Baker, has over thirteen years of experience in volunteer, combination, and career, fire departments in California. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology and Associates of Science Degree in Fire Service Command, Company Officer. Chris is a California State Fire Training certified Fire Officer, Driver-Operator, Fire Instructor, and Lead Firefighter I Certification Evaluator. He has over nine years of teaching experience as an Adjunct Instructor in the EMS discipline, Firefighter 1 Academy Instructor, and Fire Science Instructor in the California Community Colleges System. Chris is a member of the California Fire Technology Directors’ Association and the California Training Officers Association. He served as a volunteer Peer Reviewer on the FY 2017 Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) for both hiring and recruitment/retention. Chris also served as a Peer Reviewer on the FY 2017 Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) and the FY 2018 Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG). He is a Volunteer Advocate Regional Manager, Region IX (CA, NV, AZ, HI) for the Everyone Goes Home Program through the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Chris also serves as a volunteer member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Safety, Health and Survival Section serving in their staging area. He was a member of the 2018 and 2019 Safety Stand Down committees. Chris is a member of the Board of Directors and Public Information Officer (PIO) for the National Fire Heritage Center located in Emmitsburg, Maryland. He is a National Fire Service Instructor teaching at notable fire conferences across the country including the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) International. Chris is the co-host of the Fire Engineering: The Future Firefighter Podcast, and he writes blog articles published through Firefighter Nation and the Fire Engineering Training Community on mentoring the future generations of the fire service.