The Disaster Response Network (DRN), instituted in 1992 by the American Psychological Association (APA), is a group of approximately 2,500 licensed psychologists across the country with training in disaster response who offer volunteer assistance to relief workers and survivors in the aftermath of disasters. The program is comprised of local disaster response programs that are managed by state, provincial and territorial psychological associations such as the Delaware Psychological Association.
Disaster mental health (DMH) is provided by many different agencies, such as the American Red Cross, Critical Incident Stress Management teams, community mental health agencies, Veterans Affairs, Victims Assistance, local hospital disaster teams, Medical Reserve Corps.
To be successful, a disaster response network needs to be affiliated with standing organizations that provide care in a crisis. The American Red Cross has had an abiding presence in times of disaster and other traumatic events. We all need to recognize how detrimental it can be to just “show up” at a crisis. That sort of response cannot be sustained and is inconsistent. Having a cohort of Red Cross mental health volunteers, trained and authorized by the Red Cross, with proper ID, provides consistency and reliability of response.
The APA and its Disaster Response Network have a “cooperation agreement” with the American Red Cross to better serve the needs of the community. Volunteers of the DPA Disaster Response Network are often involved with local Red Cross activities.
However, we are not limited as DRN volunteers to the Red Cross. Many opportunities abound. There are various Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) units which deal with emergency preparedness. The state of Delaware MRC meets in both New Castle and Milford. We may think that being involved with such preparedness involves having to leave the area for weeks at a time. That is not the case. In fact, those times are fortunately infrequent. More often are local needs that may require as little as an hour or two.
If you are a psychologist or other mental health professional interested in finding out about volunteer opportunities with the Delaware Disaster Response Network, please complete the Volunteer Contact Form and email to firstname.lastname@example.org.