Guidelines for good samaritans who offer to help during major flooding are being launched today to a gathering of emergency planners from NGOs, national and local government.
Based on research by University of Manchester academics, the report outlines what planners should do with members of the public who show up and want to help those affected by a major emergency.
The report, which is being launched at the University today to an audience of over 100 emergency planners, is being used to shape UK policy and details how volunteers should be managed and whether they should be encouraged, discouraged or ignored.
It is based on research into how volunteers have previously been involved in flood responses and outlines how they can be used more effectively in the future. The report includes practical considerations that emergency managers need to consider when developing their local emergency plans.
“Spontaneous volunteers should to be supported during a major emergency but this can be problematic if they can put themselves or others at risk,” said Professor Duncan Shaw from Manchester’s Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute who is also Chair of Operations & Critical Systems at Alliance Manchester Business School.
The motivations and aims of volunteers also formed part of the research and suggests that many people had a desire to help because they felt they could reduce others’ suffering and build a sense of community spirit.
“Volunteers can be invaluable during a major emergency but we are keen to ensure people do this safely,” continued Professor Shaw. “Our request would be for them to offer their support by finding out how the authorities are structuring volunteers and then go along to offer your support as there are lots of safe ways that volunteers can help in a flood disaster.
“Emergencies have many dangers, some of which are hidden to all but the trained eye – if in doubt, leave it to trained responders. Volunteers must be willing to be flexible and help where there is the most need.
“If you want to help, come with appropriate clothing, a willingness to listen to direction, and wanting to help where the authorities need support” said Professor Shaw.
The Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute focuses on humanitarian aid and conflict response, global health, international disaster management and peace building. It houses UK-Med which is a medical response charity and the country’s deployment lead to global humanitarian crises.