While agencies continue to physically respond to the devastation from the April 25th 7.9 magnitude earthquake in Nepal, volunteer organizations have once again emerged to offer their assistance in many different modes, ranging from providing food/shelter/safety to responders to providing virtual situational awareness from data analysis of social media platforms. These volunteer organizations remain flexible and adaptable to the changing needs and requirements of those response agencies.
Although necessary to highlight the services in which volunteer organizations provide during major disasters, it is equally important to bring attention to one area of their effort that ensures successful contributions – collaboration amongst volunteer organizations with differing yet similar roles.
While volunteer agencies strive towards a common goal assisting victims of a disaster, many, if not all, have realized the importance of sharing their expertise, sharing their knowledge, and sharing their collected information —- with their fellow volunteer organizations.
During the weekend of May 1st, three volunteer organizations, each with a mission and purpose to assist virtually in Nepal, united and quickly discovered how to leverage one another’s skills and knowledge at achieving one goal – provide information. The quick virtual activation of these groups of volunteers, concluded with the day being an excellent example of how to effectively share information and assist one another. As earthquake recovery efforts continue 24/7, we briefly highlight this positive outcome and the synergy of working together. This example hopefully inspires others that through willingness, cooperation, and pre-planning they too can provide quality, timely services during urgent need requests.
Humanity Road (HR), Montgomery County, MD CERT (MCCERT), and Standby Task Force (SBTF) took time from their pre-existing responsibilities to collaborate and respond to an urgent request – identify the operational status of identified hospital names in Nepal and identify their district, street address, and points of contact. Each utilizing its own internal processes for work assignments, the collaborative effort resulted in nearly 60% of the pre-identified hospitals having valuable information inserted. Additionally, the joint effort led to a discovery which re-focused each volunteer organizations assignment and resources and soon they parted ways.
When the initial joint effort had concluded after 4 hours, the cooperation, communication, and sharing of information resulted in providing actionable information to the requester in Nepal. A perfect example of interoperability at its finest!
Humanity Road is a top rated nonprofit charity providing support to the public and aid agencies during sudden onset disaster. Humanity Road monitors social media to save lives and close the black hole of communications during natural disaster. For more information about Humanity Road visit http://humanityroad.org
Montgomery County, MD CERT is a team of county residents trained in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. The Montgomery County CERT has over 500+ members and its program is managed by the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service.
The Standby Task Force organizes digital volunteers into a flexible, trained and prepared network ready to deploy in crises. The concept for the Task Force was launched to streamline online volunteer support for crisis mapping following lessons learned in Haiti, Chile and Pakistan, and to provide a dedicated interface for the humanitarian community.
This is just one of many stories we would like to share of unique collaborations ongoing to support disaster response activities in Nepal.