FAQ

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What is the Emergency System for Advanced Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESAR-VHP)?

The mission of the ESAR-VHP program is to establish a national interoperable network of state based volunteer registration systems for managing volunteers at all tiers of response. Each system verifies the identity, credentials, certifications, licenses, and hospital privileges of health professionals who volunteer to provide health services during a public health emergency.

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What is Arizona Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals?

Your ESAR-VHP system is an initiative to pre-register, manage, and mobilize clinical and non-clinical volunteers to help in responding to all types of disasters. The volunteer management system is part of a nation-wide effort to make sure that volunteer professionals can be quickly identified and their credentials checked so that they can be properly utilized in response to a public health emergency or disaster.

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What are the functions of Arizona Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals?

Information pertaining to individual volunteers such as contact information, licensure, credentials, training history, response experience and skills is collected and maintained. It also serves as the system for identifying, activating, and deploying volunteers during disasters, and functions as a communication tool for providing volunteers with information about training and exercises.

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Why is Arizona Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals necessary?

Recent experience with large scale disasters has consistently shown that an effective response requires that volunteers be pre-credentialed and deployed through a coordinated effort. Well meaning but unaffiliated volunteers who spontaneously present to disaster sites are often unable to be assigned. With limited time and resources to process volunteers, often only those with known credentials are permitted access to the disaster response. By registering with the site, you can be part of an alert system and respond, when activated, to a significant disaster or public health emergency. The site serves to improve volunteer coordination during an emergency.

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Is my information safe?

Every possible step relating to data integrity and security is taken by the staff in order to prevent abuse and protect participants' privacy. Please review the Privacy Policy and contact us if you would like further information.

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How will I update or change my information?

During registration, you will set a secure and unique user name and password. You will need this information to reenter on the website to update your contact information, obtain general program information, or to register for the program's online training courses.

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How often should I update my information?

We request that you update your information any time you have a change in status. In addition, we recommend that you check your profile and update as needed every six (6) months. Licensure information must be kept up to date or your volunteer participation may be limited. The volunteer database may contact you in the event of an emergency, so, it is important that you keep your contact information up to date in order to be contacted if needed.

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Should I join a local Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) or other volunteer group in addition to registering with Arizona Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals?

Most emergencies occur locally and on a smaller scale. Therefore, it is important that local organizations have their own volunteer base. Those organizations will also be able to access state, regional and national volunteer registries to supplement their local forces during a larger event. To be a volunteer locally for a particular organization such as a MRC, you will need to sign up with that unit and register with the system. Registering with the ESAR-VHP system will allow you to indicate that you are registered as a volunteer locally. Registering locally will provide you opportunities to participate in additional training and exercises, and perform non-emergency volunteer roles locally.

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What is the Medical Reserve Corps?

Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is part of a nationwide initiative to pre-register, manage, and mobilize volunteers to help their communities respond to all types of disasters. MRC units also help to foster disaster preparedness on a local level and serve as Ambassadors to the Office of the United States Surgeon General in the implementation of the Surgeon General's Health Initiatives. MRCs serve to unite local health professionals and other individuals with relevant health-related skills in their community. The structure of each MRC unit varies, depending on its own unique requirements and on the needs of the people and community that it serves and will aid the local, existing community emergency medical response systems. To obtain more information regarding a MRC program, or to locate a MRC unit in your area, you may access their website at https://mrc.hhs.gov .

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Who can volunteer?

Anyone can volunteer. An emphasis is currently being placed on the recruitment of licensed medical and healthcare volunteers that will satisfy clinical needs and provide surge capacity for public health emergencies. However, volunteers who do not have any medical training are welcomed and are encouraged to register. There will be a need for volunteers with all types of skills and expertise, such as those who are skilled in: interpretation (languages and hearing impaired); administration; transportation training; provision of day care; security; computers; clerical work; data entry; and construction. All volunteers are valued, even if you have no specific qualifications other than the willingness to help.

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What is required for participation?

You must first register with the program. Your local program administrator for your area may contact you about their expectations for participation. If and when activation becomes necessary, you will be contacted through the system and asked about your availability. All volunteers can accept or refuse a request for help. No matter what the extent of the need is, these are voluntary deployments and you are not required to participate.

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Do I have to have any special training or expertise to volunteer?

Your local program administrator will contact you for training opportunities, or any requirements for participation. FREE training to volunteers is provided on a variety of emergency related topics. These trainings will be provided through volunteer symposia, live webcasts/broadcasts, local, area and state conferences, and printed or electronic materials. When you as a volunteer are asked to deploy, just-in-time training will be provided to prepare you with what can be expected, and what you need to know to help out and keep yourself safe.

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How will my credentials be verified?

Credential verification allows the system to identify volunteers who have the qualifications needed for the current emergency. Obtaining, verifying, and assessing qualifications of a healthcare professional are aspects of credential verification. Only volunteer healthcare professionals with verified credentials will be utilized to provide patient care, treatment and services in/for a healthcare organization during an emergency event. The appropriate licensing board will be utilized to verify the status of licenses.

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Under what conditions will I be contacted to provide emergency services?

You may be contacted if local, regional, state and/or interstate volunteer resources are not sufficient to meet the need for response and recovery efforts resulting from a natural or man-made emergency.

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Do volunteers only help in disaster time (during emergency situations)?

Although the volunteers are needed to respond to disasters or emergencies, you may be asked to volunteer for a non-emergency event, especially if you join a local MRC.

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How would I know if I was needed during a disaster?

During an event, critical information will be posted in appropriate areas on a website. Requests for volunteers will be sent through the site via emails and phone calls using the contact information that was entered into the system. In the event that you are contacted by the system, you will receive necessary information relative to the event. Therefore, please be sure that your information is accurate and up-to-date.

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If I register, am I committed to respond when called? What if I have obligations that do not allow me to volunteer at the time of an emergency?

Registration in no way commits a volunteer to respond. It is understood that personal circumstances can prevent you from volunteering. Your service is voluntary and you are not legally obligated to assist. The decision to volunteer when you are called to an emergency is up to you. As a volunteer, you should expect to be called to help in public health emergencies at any time. You are encouraged to have a preparedness plan. This preparedness plan will not only help to protect you and your family, but it just might enable you to fulfill your desire to volunteer and assist should an emergency occur.

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I am a retired healthcare professional. Am I still eligible to register?

Absolutely! The value of retired medical personnel for their wealth of knowledge and experience is well recognized. Retired healthcare professionals are more likely to be available during a public health emergency, as currently licensed and employed professional may be needed at their place of employment during a disaster.

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May I register if I'm not currently licensed or practicing in a medical field?

Yes. There will be many needs for unlicensed health professionals, as well as a need for those without medical training who may serve as general volunteers. Whether you are actively licensed, a student, retired health professional, or someone with an interest in volunteering during a health emergency, you are encouraged to register.

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I do not have a medical background; can I still register and volunteer?

Yes, individual citizens interested in volunteering during a disaster are necessary to supporting a public health disaster. The needs of potential assignments are not limited to only healthcare professionals. The site is open to any medical, public health professional/student as well as non-medical individuals.

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What is my responsibility to my current employer?

You must make necessary arrangements with your employer in order to take the time to volunteer. We recognize that your employer may have particular needs, including needs related to the specific disaster. The conditions under which an employee will be released to volunteer in an emergency remain between the employer and the employee.

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What if I am already working at a local hospital or currently obligated to serve in a branch of the military?

If you have prior volunteering commitments, military or National Guard responsibilities, or work commitments, please inform us of this in the prior emergency response commitments section of your profile. The registry provides a list of volunteers who are willing to volunteer. Your status and availability as a volunteer may be determined with your hospital/ employer's emergency plan. If the emergency is in your immediate area, you may be required to report to work. Some volunteers may be released from normal duties by their employer. If circumstances permit, and your employer agrees to release you to volunteer, we encourage you to make yourself available as a volunteer when you are called.

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What kinds of local programs will I be able to work with? Do I have a choice as to what types of programs I can participate in?

When you register for the system you may choose from a list of participating programs to volunteer with. As more volunteer programs are added to the website, more choices will become available. Also, you may choose to volunteer directly with other programs in your area. Check with local public health, emergency management, and private agencies in your area to see what opportunities are available.

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What will be my level or length of commitment in an emergency?

There is no specific required length of service; it is entirely voluntary. deployments may last 3 to 14 days however special circumstances may require shorter or longer deployments. Your participation is expected to be determined by your own availability. Each volunteer should determine his/her current availability, based on the following:

  • What type of incident are you willing to respond to?
  • What distance are you willing to travel?
  • How long are you willing to be deployed?

When you receive the notification to volunteer, you will also receive information regarding the event and other important instructions so that you may determine whether or not you want to volunteer.

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Can I specify that I want to volunteer in my own community or outside my community?

Yes. You can indicate that you are only willing to volunteer in your local area and/or that you are willing to volunteer in the event of a larger emergency that occurs in other communities, statewide, or even in other states that may require your assistance.

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Will I be able to or asked to volunteer in other counties and/or states?

Efforts will be made to schedule volunteers close to their communities when possible. You may be contacted when outside assistance is needed in other locations during statewide emergencies. Volunteers may also be asked to assist in other states throughout the nation and during federal emergencies. deployment will vary depending on the event and volunteers may decline to participate in any event. Volunteers who do accept an out of state or federal assignment may be asked to provide additional information in the registry.

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Once I've registered, how should I prepare for deployment? What should I bring with me?

You will be provided a recommended deployment list prior to any deployment.

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How do I get to the deployment area or base camp?

Logistical information will be given to volunteers pertaining to how they will assemble at the staging area and return to the staging area when his or her deployment has ended. Please do not deploy to the base camp on your own.

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What kind of credentials will I have to provide during a deployment?

All volunteers must provide valid identification. Those working in a professional capacity will also have to provide their current professional license.

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I registered several days ago, why haven't I been called up yet?

Registering at this website allows you to be called upon to assist when needed. Although you have not received an assignment that does not mean you will not in the future. Requests for assistance arrive from local Emergency Operations Centers and we will utilize this registry to identify potential volunteers to assist. A disaster is a local event and local volunteer networks are utilized first before calling upon volunteers outside of those networks.

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Are there any specific health concerns (e.g., vaccinations) that are required for me to participate?

No prior vaccinations are required for volunteers. However, in the event of certain emergencies (e.g., pandemic influenza, bioterrorism) where a medical countermeasure is available you may receive the countermeasure if needed.

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Are there any provisions for compensating me for time lost from work or other expenses?

Currently, no provisions exist for compensating volunteers for time lost from work, mileage, meal costs, etc. However, in the event of an emergency, such provisions may become available, but they are not defined at this time.

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If I volunteer, will there be help available to take care of my family?

At this time there are no provisions in place for the care of families of volunteers. You are strongly encouraged to put an emergency plan in place now, to ensure the safety of your own loved ones in the event of an emergency event.

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Does my emergency response program participate in this System?

Please contact your program administrator directly to learn if your emergency volunteer program participates.

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I am a program administrator and would like to learn more about having my emergency response program included in this System?

If you are a program administrator for an emergency response organization, and would like to learn how your organization can qualify for the program, please contact us.

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FAQ Disclaimer

These FAQs are for informational purposes only. Nothing within these FAQs is meant to provide specific legal guidance or advice to any person. Rather, these FAQs are meant to serve as an assessment tool for individuals who are considering participation in the Volunteer Registry. Readers should consult with their own attorneys about these laws and their applicability to particular situations or organizations.

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