December 19, 2019

Volunteer Activation Information

This is important information for active Brookline MRC volunteers.  When we request volunteers for emergency activation and/or non-emergency volunteer events, we ask that you come prepared to help, and with everything you will need.

Please review this information regularly to refresh your memory, particularly prior to activating (both emergencies & non-emergencies).  This will help ensure that you arrive prepared and ready to assist immediately.

General Information

Brookline MRC volunteers help first responders during emergencies.  The Brookline MRC, and our sister organization CERT, support Brookline’s Emergency Management Team (EMT) during public health emergencies, mass casualty incidents, and other emergencies.  An MRC volunteer can choose to be deployed only in Brookline, in nearby towns, regionally, or as part of a statewide or federal operation. Typically, states of emergency are declared by local and state agencies.  All activations are initiated by the MRC/CERT coordinators and are voluntary.

Activations may also include responding to natural disasters, infectious disease outbreaks, fires, ice storms, power outages, emergency shelters or reception centers, and search and rescue.

The Brookline MRC, managed by the Brookline Public Health Department, is not a first responder team.   MRC (and CERT) volunteers are used to support first responders when additional personnel are needed.

There are FOUR cardinal rules of MRC Deployment:

  1. When volunteers are needed, you will be contacted by the MRC/CERT coordinator

  2. Volunteers should NEVER self-deploy. Self-deployment is grounds for dismissal

  3. No unauthorized person should ever deploy MRC/CERT volunteers

  4. Students should only be deployed under the supervision and guidance of licensed professionals

Basic Training Requirements

New volunteers must meet basic training requirements prior to responding in an emergency.  This includes an overview of the national MRC program and an introduction to the local unit that includes priorities and usual activities.

Access the basic MRC training under “view upcoming events.”

You must also take Incident Command System (ICS)100 and National Incident Management System (NIMS) 700.  These are required courses and will explain how emergency incidents are managed.  ICS & NIMS are used across the country, by all first responder organizations, and are critical to understanding your role in any emergency situation.

            IS 100 teaches on-scene incident management.  It ensures coordination and cooperation through a common command structure.

            IS 700 is a national approach to incident management.  It can be used at a variety of incidents.  Its purpose is to improve cooperation between public and private first responders and volunteers.  It also offers a consistent template that allows government and non-government organizations to work together.

Keep your skills sharp via regular training. Additional emergency preparedness and response education is available (both in person & online) via DelValle Institute for Emergency Preparedness

MEMA, FEMA and the American Red Cross also offer a wide variety of online and in-person courses.

Prepare Before You Are Needed

Before disaster strikes, make sure that you and your family are prepared. This includes a written communication plan, emergency food and other supplies, Go Bags, etc.  Don’t forget to prepare for your pets!

Review the plan with your family so everyone knows what to do when you are mobilized.

  • Ensure your family is prepared in case they become impacted

  • Review your emergency contact plan in case communications become disrupted

  • Establish a secondary meeting location in case your family must evacuate while you are responding to an emergency

Keep your Go Bag, MRC/CERT logo apparel and credentials ready.  Consider putting one set of emergency gear in your car and keeping one at home – if you are activated while out of the house/at work, you can respond quickly.

Inform your employer of your volunteer emergency response position in advance and find out if they are willing to grant you time off to activate.  Once an emergency strikes, it’s too late to negotiate time off.

Tell family or friends that you are deploying, where you are going, how to reach you, and when you expect to be home.

When You Get the Call

In many cases, emergencies happen without warning. The Brookline MRC/CERT coordinators will usually use the HHAN (Health & Homeland Alert Network) for no-notice emergency communications.  However, emergency activation information may be sent via email, phone, text, etc.  Make sure the MRC/CERT coordinators have your up to date contact information!

When you get a call via the HHAN, please listen closely to the message.  If you can activate, follow the instructions, which will likely include you calling back to confirm and get more information.  If you need to replay the message, please listen for the options at the end of the message and press the appropriate button.  Pre-program your MRC/CERT coordinator’s contact info into your cell phones so you can reach them quickly when needed.

If you are NOT available to activate – please DO NOT CALL.  We cannot be tied up on calls with people explaining why they cannot help!

If you are available to respond – keep your call back short.  When you call to activate, please just tell us; yes you can help, how long before you can be there, and how long you can stay (if not the whole time requested).  As much as we love to hear about your personal and work news, during an activation is NOT the right time to catch up.  We are fielding multiple calls, coordinating with the Police, Fire, DPW, Health, and other Departments, and trying to get ourselves out the door as well.

We will give you specifics including where & when to report, who to check in with, and any other critical information you will need.

If you can help, but not immediately (such as later in the day, or the next day), send an email or wait an hour or more before calling.  This will allow the MRC/CERT coordinators to follow-up later, when there is more time to coordinate shifts after the immediate response.

If you are not comfortable with the emergency/situation or do not feel like it is the right assignment for you, PLEASE DO NOT ACTIVATE! (and wait until after the crisis is resolved before calling your coordinator to explain or discuss)

What to Bring to an Event or Emergency

Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Please try to be as self-sufficient as possible.  We need people who can get themselves to local shelters, who know where our local shelters are (or find directions on their own – use Google maps or GPS).  If you don’t have transportation – find one or more fellow volunteers IN ADVANCE who live near you & are willing to pick you up.

Dress appropriately. Wear comfortable clothes, appropriate for the weather.  Shoes should be comfortable and, if a fire scene or outdoor emergency, hard-toe boots that you don’t mind getting dirty.

Get there SAFELY!! Do not endanger yourself or others activating to a scene.  You are not exempt from traffic laws when responding to an emergency (neither are the coordinators!)  Do not park in front of hydrants, handicapped spots, restricted zones, etc.  Be prepared to show your MRC/CERT ID as needed.


Security Items:

  • CERT/MRC Identification Badge

  • 1 Additional government issued photo ID

  • Personal Emergency Contact(s) information

  • Current professional licenses (if applicable)

  • Certifications (CPR, etc)

Clothing: (Be prepared for both indoor and outdoor conditions)

  • Comfortable, light-weight clothing

  • Long pants

  • Long-sleeved shirts

  • Hat

  • Boots or comfortable walking shoes

  • Warm jacket

  • Rain gear

  • Bandana/handkerchief

  • Gloves (Leather gloves if physical labor will be performed, or for warmth)

Personal Gear:

  • Backpack

  • Water

  • Non-perishable snacks

  • Toiletries

  • Flashlight

  • Whistle

  • Personal first aid kit (non-prescription or prescription medications)

  • Cell Phone with charger

  • Note-pads/index cards and pens/sharpies

  • Sunglasses

  • Sunblock and/or insect repellent

  • Lip balm

  • Contact lenses, lens cleaner, and/or spare pair of eye glasses in protective case

  • Small amount of cash


  • Professional Equipment (Stethoscope, etc)

  • Multi-Tool

  • Change of clothes/footwear


If You Are the First to Arrive

  • Always maintain your safety. Don’t add to the number of victims

  • Know your skill limits

  • Keep track of when MRC/CERT volunteers arrive

  • Gather spontaneous volunteers and assign them tasks as appropriate

    • Keep pathways clear

    • Organize staging areas for displaced people, injured people, etc

    • Take down names of displaced/injured people

    • Make sure people don’t wander away

  • Gather pertinent information to be passed on to first responders

  • Check in with one of us, or the manager of the building if you arrive first, to identify locations for set up, tasks that need to be completed, items that are needed, etc.

  • Help us quickly ID any persons requiring additional assistance

  • Please let us know if you are uncomfortable with anything being requested of you or if you see/hear of/ anticipate an unsafe or inefficient situation

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Never use you MRC/CERT ID or involvement in order to get consideration on a ticket, moving violation or other criminal charges

  • Respect fellow volunteers and the skills/abilities/experience they each bring

  • Do not hesitate to bring concerns about the way something is being done to the attention of your shelter manager and/or program coordinator

Demobilization & Debriefing

  • Always sign out before you leave the scene, and make sure your supervisor is aware

  • Each incident should include an opportunity to debrief

  • Volunteer comments can be included in an after-action report for the MRC/CERT, and can be shared anonymously in overall post-event reviews with other agencies