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Volunteer Reception Center Deployed as Part of Mass Rescue Exercise

May 26th, 2011


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Bar HarborIn honor of AmeriCorps Week  community volunteers, the Maine Commission for Community Service (MCCS) and VolunteerMaine AmeriCorps VISTA’s participated in a Mass Rescue Exercise that was conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Town of Bar Harbor,Hancock County, Caribbean Cruise Lines, and Celebrity Cruises. “Our role was to run theVolunteer Reception Center,“ said Eileen Buzzello, Disaster Services AmeriCorps VISTA.

A Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) is a place where trained volunteers can make use of unaffiliated volunteers in response and recovery operations in an efficient manner. VCR’s register, screen, and place volunteers in available opportunities and match spontaneous volunteers with requesting agencies. In the event of a real disaster, MCCS can be activated by the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to deploy a Volunteer Reception Center.

“This exercise was a great opportunity for VRC volunteers to practice their skills. We were able to process 89 volunteers in just over an hour,” said Rochelle Runge, Co-Chair of the State of Maine Disaster Coordination Team and Disaster Services Coordinator for MCCS.

Volunteers that participated in the exercise were assigned various roles which provided a realistic experience for emergency responders. Some volunteers had make-up applied to simulate injuries and were triaged by emergency medical services and transported to local hospitals.

“Without volunteer participation and coordination this rich training opportunity for first responders would not be possible,” said Paul Culver of the US Coast Guard. The exercise allowed emergency responders to train and evaluate their procedures for management of a marine mass rescue incident. It provided a realistic scenario for them to test inter-agency coordination and communication.  

The Maine Commission for Community Service builds capacity and sustainability in Maine's volunteer and service communities by funding programs, developing managers of volunteers and service-learning practitioners, raising awareness of sector issues, and promoting service as a strategy.  To learn more about the Maine Commission for Community Service visit our web-site