EMC032 – How to be left OUT!

To: Emergency Communications Units, any place, any where
By: Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS), the volunteer communications reserve of the State of California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services

Originally Published: June 17, 1996

We get inquiries about why volunteers are not called upon after they have some kind of agreement with a local official. Here, in the words of an unnamed emergency management agency official, is one perspective on why they are left out.

“Volunteers serve the will of the local government. Like it or not and more often than not, if a volunteer embarrasses the local government, they will not be asked to serve again. No reason may ever be given. The volunteers are simply left out in the cold. This is often because the volunteers have often put their own desires and practices before those of the local government. Like it or not, this is not the way to success and long term involvement. That’s one reason the Radio Officer must become intimately familiar with the local government policies, practices, procedures and — yes — politics. The politics of a radio club or association must never get in the way or it can be a one-way road to “out!” Remember, we got along without you before and we can get along without you in the future.”

“I know that many of my counterparts simply won’t say these things to you. But if somebody doesn’t, some of you may wonder why we have had bad experiences with some volunteers. The sheriff doesn’t have these problems with reserve deputies. Any questions?”

Our next series will cover the various types of volunteers, not just those in communications. As we’ve spoken about this around the area it is startling to realize how few people discern that there are actually different TYPES and QUALITIES of volunteers.

We have had good success with using the term “unpaid staff” or “unpaid professionals” rather than volunteers, largely due to the negative images that exist in people’s minds. There is really no way we can know what another person categorizes ’volunteers’ so anything we can do to get beyond those mental images is a step in the right direction.

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