UCSF Seeks Volunteers for Care and Shelter Team

To prepare for a major disaster — such as an earthquake that destroys bridges and prevents faculty, staff and students from returning to their homes — UCSF is establishing care and shelter areas and enlisting a team to help operate them.

UCSF is seeking volunteers to join a new Care and Shelter Team (CAST) to help manage the sheltering of, and provide care and comfort to, those who are unable to return to their homes due to disaster, according to Christopher Jones, director of emergency management at the UCSF Police Department.

CAST will consist of UCSF employees who are trained and organized to help their fellow UCSF community members during a disaster. Specifically, CAST is tasked with operating a shelter to provide disaster information, food and water, a place to rest, sanitation and safety.

Joining CAST is voluntary, and members of the campus community who sign up to serve will be called upon only during a disaster. UCSF recognizes that under such circumstances, everybody’s first obligations are to family, friends and neighborhood. Once those obligations are met, members of the campus community who sign up to be part of CAST will be called upon to assist fellow UCSF community members.

UCSF will conduct an informational meeting about CAST on Thursday, June 25, from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Mission Bay campus in Genentech Hall, room S 261. RSVP if you would like to attend.

Here are commonly asked questions and answers about CAST.

Q: What does a Care and Shelter Team do?


A: Care and Shelter Team (CAST) is a network of trained volunteers from UCSF that can quickly mobilize in the event of a local, large-scale disaster. CAST volunteers will serve as “reserves” who can be called up when disaster strikes. CAST volunteers will assist the UCSF campus in providing disaster information, food and water, a place to rest, sanitation and safety.


Q: How does CAST work?


A: During a major disaster, when UCSF faculty, staff and students are unable to return home, CAST volunteers will help organize and maintain an on-campus shelter to provide beds, security, food and basic services. A call from the UCSF Emergency Operations Center will activate CAST.


Q: What can CAST volunteers be trained to provide?


A: All CAST volunteers take the required course and are trained for sheltering and mass feeding, disaster assessment, or information assistance. Volunteers can also take first aid, CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) courses.


Q: What are the benefits for CAST volunteers?


A: Benefits include the satisfaction of knowing that you are giving back to your community. CAST volunteers elsewhere report that the program raises employee morale and shows employees, clients and the community that the host organization is actively involved in addressing community needs and concerns. CAST also demonstrates to disaster victims and their neighbors that the host organization cares and wants to help. Employees can volunteer without a major time commitment.


Q: Are CAST volunteers obligated to serve when called upon?


A: No. All assignments are voluntary.


Q: How can I get involved?


A: By obtaining permission from your supervisor to volunteer for and train with CAST. When a disaster strikes and the campus needs CAST, you will be asked to help.


Q: How much training will I need?


A: A basic, two-hour minimum training, and then advanced, one-hour courses will be available twice a year.

Q: When and where will the training take place?


A: Qualified instructors will provide training throughout the campus. Most training will be conducted at UCSF campus locations where CAST will set up a shelter.


Q: Can my spouse be trained?


A: Yes. Family members over the age of 18 may be trained to serve in Red Cross-managed shelters; however, they would be unable to volunteer in a UCSF shelter due to limitations of UCSF liability.


Q: Will there be a charge for training?


A: No. Training is free.


Q: What type of activities will I be asked to perform?


A: Volunteers are trained in three basic functions:

  • Shelter staffing — interact with clients, distribute blankets and supplies, and establish eating areas.
  • Disaster assessment — gather, analyze, interpret and distribute accurate and timely information about the extent of damage, overall impact, scope of the incident, weather conditions and demographics of a disaster-affected community, and provide mapping support.
  • Information assistance — assist in managing a community information board, where concerned family members can check the status of employees, and vice versa.
Q: How will I be called for deployment?


A: After UCSF has gathered information about the disaster, an assessment is made to determine what type of response is required. If volunteers are needed, a call will be made to the team captain and instructions will be given at that time.


Q: Can I say no when I am called to respond?
A: Yes. All assignments are done on a voluntary basis. The priorities are your family, friends and neighborhood. When those obligations are met and you are available to help, you will be asked to respond.


Q: Where will I be volunteering?


A: All assignments will be at UCSF facilities. UCSF is in the process of determining suitable buildings to use in the event of a disaster.


Q: How flexible will I have to be?


A: Flexibility is the key. We never know when or where a disaster will occur, so we have to be ready to respond immediately.