Fire and EMS organizations are mobilizing relief efforts for public safety workers and for members of the general public who are struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
For those interested in responding to the disaster sites, the Federal Emergency Management Association and the Department of Homeland Security have provided instructions. The instructions ask responders not to self-dispatch, but to apply for a position on one of 1,000 two-person firefighter teams being sought. For more on the qualifications required and the application process, visit the IAFC/IAFF News Alert on Firehouse.com.
Response agencies can also assist by registering their response assets and resources with their state's official interstate mutual aid program. The DHS is referring response agencies to learn more about this effort through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.
Several fire and EMS organizations have also started relief efforts for their fellow responders.
The International Association of Fire Fighters has set up a disaster relief fund to provide financial aid to IAFF members and their families who have experienced devastation from disasters like this hurricane.
The IAFF has established a command response headquarters at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. IAFF command will be staffed and operational beginning Friday, Sept. 2, to coordinate relief efforts for IAFF members in the storm areas.
"We have reports of IAFF members who have experienced significant damage from this hurricane," said IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. "These members and their families will need the help of our entire union to get through this difficult time, and we will be there for them."
To learn more about the IAFF Disaster Relief Fund visit the IAFF's web site.
The National Volunteer Fire Council has set up an emergency relief fund for fire departments that have been impacted by Hurricane Katrina.
The NVFC is working with its state member fire associations to identify departments in need. The fund will focus relief efforts toward equipment and facility repair and replacement to allow departments to become fully operational in a timely manner. The NVFC is donating administrative costs associated with the fund so that 100 percent of the contributions will reach fire departments.
Online donations will be accepted later this week but checks can immediately be mailed to the NVFC Emergency Relief Fund at P.O. Box 223202 in Chantilly, VA 20153. For additional details about this fund visit NVFC.org.
Another fund has been established by the National Association of EMTs for EMS professionals who need help rebuilding their lives in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina.
NAEMT is the largest association for EMTs, Paramedics and other emergency medical responders. The EMS and Rescuer Relief Fund will help support EMS workers who have lost property or were injured in the hurricane.
"We want to provide means for EMS providers to help other EMS providers," NAEMT representative John Becknell said.
Becknell said NAEMT created the fund after hearing reports from the Gulf Coast describing not only the hardships suffered by EMS workers, but also their continued professionalism in the face of personal tragedy.
"All of us on the Board are extremely concerned about the EMS responders who have been impacted by Hurricane Katrina," NAEMT President-Elect Jerry Johnston said in a recent press release. "We hope that our commitment to supporting the EMS and Rescuer Relief Fund will encourage other individuals to make a donation to allow us to offer financial support to our fellow EMS personnel who have suffered great personal losses and yet are serving others in the disaster area."
Those wishing to contribute to the fund should send checks to the NAEMT EMS and Rescuer Relief Fund c/o the NAEMT Headquarters, PO Box 1400, Clinton, MS 39060-1400. Credit card donations can be made by calling (800) 34-NAEMT. For more information on this fund visit NAEMT's web site at NAEMT.org.