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Why should I volunteer for a public health emergency?

Your help is likely needed! Hospitals, health centers and other healthcare facilities may become overwhelmed during a public health emergency or a terrorist incident. An effective response to an emergency often depends on the ability to quickly identify and contact volunteer healthcare professionals who have the specific skills necessary to care for people who are injured or ill.

Who is eligible to volunteer?

Healthcare professionals including physicians, nurses, dentists, physicians’ assistants, behavioral health professionals, clinical laboratory professionals, diagnostic imaging professionals (radiographers), paramedics, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, respiratory therapists, physical/occupational therapists, veterinarians and others are needed as volunteers. Volunteers must hold a valid Rhode Island healthcare professional license/registration/certification. Rhode Island needs healthcare providers both with and without emergency care responsibilities.

What if I am not a healthcare professional?

If you do not hold a healthcare professional license/registration/certification, there may be volunteer opportunities within RIDMAT/MRC available to you. We also encourage you to seek out emergency response volunteer opportunities with our partner organizations.

What program of RI Responds is right for me?

The choice to volunteer for a particular program within RI Responds is an individual one. To ensure that you have all the information you need to make the best decision possible, please review the information that is posted on this website. Please contact with any questions.

If I am activated, what will my role be?

If you are activated, every attempt will be made to match your skills with your responsibilities during a large-scale disaster or public health emergency. On occasion, you may be asked to assist with activities that are less challenging than your usual professional activities. You will not be asked to accept responsibilities for an activity or assignment that is outside your scope of practice as defined by your license/registration/certification unless it is requested and authorized by Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) or the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA).

What if I am notified and I am unable to help?

When you are notified of an emergency, you will first be asked if you are available to respond. You always retain the right to decline for any reason.

If I am deployed, who will care for my family?

Volunteers are required to coordinate their volunteer time with the needs of their family, their employers and other non-paid obligations relative to an emergency response (police, fire, EMS or DMAT).

If I register for one of the RI Responds programs, will my contact information be shared with or sold to anyone?

None of the information supplied by volunteers during the registration process will be sold or shared. See our privacy page for the insurance. 

What if my contact information changes?

If your contact information changes, please notify the program for which you have volunteered. Periodically, RI Responds will test contact information to ensure that it is current. For updates to your information,  log in to or email

What if my licensure status changes?

RI Responds will coordinate with The Department of Health’s Center for Professional Licensing, Boards, and Comissions to ensure that all registered volunteers hold a current and valid license/registration/certification. If you'd like to ensure it's correct, you can always reach us at to confirm.

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