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General Health Volunteer FAQs

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. Click here to register for RI Responds.

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 MRC and DMAT available to you. We also encourage you to seek out emergency response volunteer opportunities with our partner organizations. (Click here for a list of our partners.)

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 program coordinators to ask questions.

If I am deployed, what will my role be?

If you are deployed, 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 HEALTH 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 or sold to anyone?

None of the information supplied by volunteers during the registration process will be sold or shared.

What if my contact information changes?

If your contact information changes, it is your responsibility to notify the program for which you have volunteered. Periodically, SERV-RI will test contact information to ensure that it is current.

What if my licensure status changes?

RI Responds will coordinate with HEALTH’s Office of Medical Licensure and Discipline and the Office of Professional Regulations to ensure that all registered volunteers hold a current and valid license/registration/certification.


Have a question not answered here? Please feel free to email info@riresponds.org and we will answer promptly. (And if we get it twice, it will go on this page!).

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