May 20, 2010
HSUS Volunteers Gearing Up
20,000+ people countrywide volunteer for oil spill response
In the ongoing effort to assist communities, coastlines and wildlife at risk from the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, designated state volunteer agencies in the region are ramping up to make sure they have a full bank of trained and certified volunteers for deployment at the ready.
These agencies—Volunteer Louisiana, Volunteer Florida, Volunteer Mississippi, and Volunteer Alabama—are operating in cooperation with the Unified Command Center, the central group in charge of the disaster response. The Unified Command alone has the legal authority to decide on the use of volunteers in an area impacted by a spill.
The volunteer agencies are responsible for selecting in-state responders at all levels. The HSUS has notified them of our volunteer resources—human and equipment—and will keep current lists from which we can pull when and if our resources are needed.
While all oil-contaminated materials will be handled by qualified community responders only—oil spill specialists in wildlife care—and not by volunteers, trained volunteers of all levels still will play a vital role in supporting efforts to help mitigate damage caused by the oil spill. To date, four oiled wildlife centers have been set up across the Gulf and more than 20,000 individuals have registered to volunteer.
Possible roles for registered and trained volunteers could include shoreline monitor, donations management, transportation assistance, administrative support, pre-impact beach clean-up, light construction, facility and site maintenance, and more.
In the case of The HSUS’ Wildlife Care Center in Broward County, Fla., our veterinarians and other experts are prepared to provide stabilization care for oiled animals after they’ve been decontaminated or tend to whatever other needs may arise. WCC treats more than 12,000 animals a year—including oiled wildlife—and serves all of southeast Florida.
The highly trained HSUS responders from the National Disaster Animal Rescue team—who’ve been involved in many disaster operations—also are gearing up.
Regardless of the level of responder, all volunteers, including HSUS NDART members and WCC staff, must complete required safety training. Our staff is working with NDART members to meet this requirement as well as to determine their fields of specialty and availability for possible deployment.
In addition to human resources, The HSUS has volunteered the use of emergency equipment such as our climate controlled animal transport van to assist in the response. It contains 15 to 20 medium- to large-sized stainless steel animal holding areas to transport rehabilitated animals out of oiled areas.
All HSUS-affiliated volunteers would operate under the jurisdiction of their state volunteer agency.
Learn more about state volunteer opportunities in the Gulf oil response: