PA Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters
PEMA serves as the coordinating office and monitor for the Pennsylvania Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (PA VOAD).
PA VOAD is an advisory committee to the Emergency Management Council, chaired by the Lieutenant Governor. PA VOAD member organizations provide assistance to the citizens of the commonwealth when a disaster strikes. PA VOAD is not a directive organization; during a disaster, the members independently provide a variety of relief and recovery services.
PA VOAD organizations are often some of the first to arrive at the scene of most disasters to provide needed services to both the first responders as well as the survivors. PA VOAD's goal is to provide a forum for voluntary organizations active in disaster to network, share best practices, and combine efforts to foster more effective service to people affected by disasters. PA VOAD operates under the national VOAD core principles of cooperation, coordination, communication, and collaboration.
Examples of services provided are:
Food and water
Psychological first aid
Immediate debris clearance
Vital home repairs or cleanout
Replacement of vital goods
Volunteer and nonprofit organizations are also vital in the planning, execution, and supervision of a community's long-term recovery process.
PEMA and PA VOAD Collaboration
PEMA provides coordination, conferencing, and information technology resources to PA VOAD, with statewide VOAD meetings occurring semi-annually, and a variety of regional and county meetings, outreach events, training, and exercises occurring more frequently.
The statewide VOAD meeting provides a forum for member organizations to network, share best practices, develop plans for future operations, and coordinate efforts with PEMA initiatives.
During a disaster, PEMA will provide guidance for donation of goods and services through public releases and coordination with county and local media outlets. PEMA may coordinate with volunteer organizations in the vicinity of a disaster to support state and county response efforts, but will not impose requirements on or direct volunteer organizations. In the event of a major disaster, the governor's press office will often provide messaging indicating specific needs for donations, or in the absence of specific information on unmet needs that it is not advisable to sent goods or supplies, but to make monetary donations to a charity, civic organization, or volunteer organization of the donor's choice.
PEMA's Voluntary Agency Liaison
Should the governor declare a State of Emergency and/or disaster, PEMA will coordinate voluntary efforts with PA VOAD organizations under the direction of PEMA’s Voluntary Agency Liaison (VAL).
The VAL will keep PA VOAD organizations informed of the events and help them to coordinate response efforts with government affiliated responders.