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Emergency Preparedness Volunteer Training Program

Matthews, Amanda K. MPH, ASPH/CDC; Sprague, Kristin MS, RN; Girling, Eileen MPH, RN; Dapice, Lynne MS, RN; Palumbo, Mary Val DNP, APRN; Berry, Patricia MPH

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: November 2005 - Volume 11 - Issue 6 - p S63–S67
Original Article

The Vermont Department of Health (VDH) does not have sufficient personnel to fully staff a mass prophylaxis or vaccination clinic in response to a natural or man-made disease outbreak. Therefore, the VDH developed an emergency preparedness volunteer training program with three primary goals: to include both background information about public health and emergency preparedness and a hands-on training for clinic volunteers; to be adaptable for both community and healthcare professional volunteers; and to examine local emergencies and the VDH public health response to these events. Major components of the training program include basic public health goals and capacities; an introduction to emergency preparedness; a role-playing exercise using Job Action Sheets to simulate “just-in-time” training; and guidance for personal and family preparedness. The VDH has experienced difficulty finding and recruiting volunteers. To increase the potential volunteer pool, it will be implementing a multifaceted training program (on-line, through the mail, in person) to most effectively engage volunteers with varying interests and learning styles. The VDH must also develop a system to maintain regular contact with volunteers and clarify regulations regarding their scope of practice and liability.

This article describes an emergency preparedness training program developed by the Vermont Department of Health to recruit and train healthcare professional and community volunteers to address the emergency preparedness needs of the community.

Amanda K. Matthews, MPH, ASPH/CDC, Preparedness Fellow, placed at the Vermont Department of Health, Burlington.

Kristin Sprague MS, RN, Vermont Department of Health, Burlington.

Eileen Girling, MPH, RN, Vermont Department of Health, Burlington.

Lynne Dapice, MS, RN, Vermont Department of Health, Burlington. Ms Dapice is now self-employed.

Mary Val Palumbo, DNP, APRN, Office of Nursing Workforce, Research, Planning and Development, University of Vermont College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Burlington.

Patricia Berry, MPH, Vermont Department of Health, Burlington.

Corresponding author and reprints: Amanda K. Matthews, MPH, Vermont Department of Health, Division of Community Public Health, 108 Cherry St, PO Box 70, Burlington, VT 05402 (e-mail:

The 2004 Inactive Nurse Survey was funded by the following grants: HRSA: State Office of Rural Health Award #2 H95 RH 00140-12; HRSA: Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Award #2 U3RMC00006; CDC: Health Preparedness and Response for Bioterrorism Award #U90/CCU116970-04. The authors thank the Boston Medical Reserve Corps and the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health for use of portions of their Emergency Preparedness Trainings curricula.

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.