44th Annual National Volunteer Week – Recognizing UCI Volunteer Groups Active in Disasters

This week, April 15-22, the world celebrates the 44th Annual National Volunteer Week. It is a time meant to highlight the impact of volunteer service in our communities, and at UC Irvine, we would be remiss not to mention and be thankful for our cadre of outstanding volunteers. Without our volunteers’ time, talent, and dedication, our campus community would not be the strong and resilient institution that it is today, especially when addressing emergency preparedness, disaster response, and recovery operations.

The UC Irvine Police Department’s Emergency Management Division coordinates many of the campus’ volunteer groups that would be active during an emergency or disaster. Our volunteer groups may be activated or called upon for many reasons – from directing and facilitating building evacuations, to working in evacuation shelters, or undertaking search and rescue operations, and even assessing damages to campus infrastructure, just to name a few. We ensure that all of our volunteers are adequately and continuously trained, properly equipped, and supported to handle the duties they are assigned. If you are a member of the UC Irvine community and would like more information about any volunteer groups outlined below, please contact the UC Irvine Emergency Management Director, Anne Widney-Lesage, at (949) 824-7147.


Zone Crew

With nearly 790 volunteer members comprised of UC Irvine staff and faculty, Zone Crew members help facilitate building and campus evacuations or shelter / secure-in-place orders during an emergency. The campus is divided into thirteen ‘Zones’, each with a designated Zone Captain. Zone Captains, who are responsible for coordinating the Zone Crew activities for each zone, select Building Coordinators for every single building on campus to assist them during an activation. Floor Wardens, and in some buildings, Lab or Suite Representatives, are volunteers who assist the Building Coordinators to ensure orders are followed in their assigned areas of responsibility.

Thank you, Zone Crew volunteers!


Campus Search and Rescue (CSAR)

The Campus Search and Rescue (CSAR) team is comprised of nearly 235 individual volunteers from the UC Irvine community. These dedicated individuals have received specialized training (18 hours provided free-of-charge by the UCIPD), which includes modules on disaster preparedness, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue operations, and disaster psychology, in order to provide supplemental assistance in a variety of tasks when large-scale emergencies affect the campus community. By the end of the training curriculum, CSAR team members are able to improve their emergency preparedness at home, in their own communities, and on campus.

Thank you, CSAR volunteers!


Care and Shelter Team (CAST)

The Care and Shelter Team (CAST) is comprised of over 40 trained UC Irvine volunteers who would provide supplementary assistance to the American Red Cross, should one of our two designated shelter sites, the Anteater Recreation Center or Bren Events Center, be activated for shelter operations. CAST volunteers may often be our “first-on-site” personnel who would be responsible for opening up the shelter location and gathering shelter supplies. All CAST members must take the American Red Cross Shelter Fundamentals course to be eligible.

Thank you, CAST volunteers!


Rapid Building Assessment Team (RBAT)

After a major earthquake or similar significant incident, it is critical for campus infrastructure to be assessed for damages in order to ensure the safety of our community members. The Rapid Building Assessment Team, which is comprised of nearly 73 trained volunteers from various campus departments, is responsible for providing an initial assessment of damages to buildings, while also providing recommendations for continued use and re-entry. These initial assessments will certainly expedite the process for resuming our day-to-day functions following a significant incident, while also identifying hazards that will need to be corrected. All RBAT volunteers have completed the ATC20/SAP Training provided by the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES).

Thank you, RBAT volunteers!


Emergency Operations Center (EOC)

The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at UC Irvine is the location from which centralized emergency management operations are coordinated during a major disaster or emergency. The EOC performs this function by providing a single point for centralized information management, decision-making, and resource management. Nearly 70 UC Irvine volunteers that represent several campus departments staff the EOC. All volunteers have received formal training in one or more sections – Management, Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance & Administration – to ensure that a holistic approach to emergency management is implemented.

Thank you, EOC volunteers!

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