FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 7, 2010
Contact: HHS Press Office
Program cuts red tape for volunteer health professionals
Using new national website before a disaster saves time when every minute counts
To make volunteering in an emergency easier for health professionals, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response launched a national website today for the Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESAR-VHP).
ESAR-VHP is a national network of state-based programs that verifies the identity, licenses, and credentials of health professionals before an emergency happens. The HHS national ESAR-VHP website provides a single point of entry for potential volunteers, connecting them with each state’s ESAR-VHP program, so health professionals can volunteer quickly without losing time waiting to have their credentials verified.
“ESAR-VHP saves time so we can make the most of volunteers’ specialized medical skills when hours, even minutes, really matter,” explained Dr. Nicole Lurie, HHS’ assistant secretary for preparedness and response. “Volunteering to help those in need during a disaster is an incredible act of compassion, and ESAR-VHP helps us get volunteers in place when they can make the biggest impact. It puts those who want to volunteer in the best position to be able to do so.”
All health professionals are encouraged to visit the ESAR-VHP website, and follow the steps to register with their state system. Health professionals include doctors, nurses, dentists, veterinarians, medical technologists, clinical social workers, medical records technicians, and mental health counselors.
Registering with ESAR-VHP does not mean that health professionals are obligated to serve. Once registered, participants can opt in or out when contacted for volunteer service.
With 49 state programs in place, ESAR-VHP already counts almost 150,000 volunteers in its ranks. Yet with the number of volunteers who could be needed in a disaster is unknown, state coordinators are eager to add to the number of volunteers willing and ready to serve.
“Everybody volunteers for different reasons,” says Matthew McCoy, an emergency medical technician from Oklahoma City whose ESAR-VHP registration enabled him to volunteer for three hurricane responses, including Hurricane Katrina. “There’s a part of everybody that really wants to help, and when you volunteer with ESAR-VHP, that happens. No matter what you do, you’ve helped somebody.”
ESAR-VHP helps communities, states, and the nation become prepared for disasters. For more information on ESAR-VHP, visit www.phe.gov/esarvhp.
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Last revised: May 7, 2011