Volunteers In Emergency Management: An Investment In The Future?
Free (open access)
381 - 391
J. Dostál & L. Balarinová
There are currently two interconnected and conflicting challenges in many countries in the world: emergency and disaster preparedness and the public finance crisis. Volunteers are a valuable and necessary resource for emergency and disaster management. This paper deals with various experiences and emergencies in the Czech Republic in which the nonprofit sector is significantly involved. The aim of the paper is to identify the scope of Czech emergency volunteering and its role in the national Integrated Rescue System (IRS). The Czech IRS is a well-established system based partly on volunteers. The volunteer-to-professional ratio is nearly 12 to 1 for firefighters and about 3.6 to 1 for the mountain rescue service; the water rescue service consists exclusively of volunteers. Moreover, hundreds or thousands of people volunteer during large floods. The scope of volunteer engagement during emergency situations can also be illustrated through estimates of its economic value. The Czech Republic saves public finances for operational expenditures of parties of the IRS, because these costs could be lowered with volunteer participation. It is possible to consider past investments in emergency volunteering as investments in the high-functioning IRS. Analogically, current investments in emergency volunteering can and should be considered as investments in sustaining the current activities of the IRS. The Czech model should be explored more thoroughly; it could be interesting for other countries with problems in emergency and disaster response, especially countries that need to reduce public expenditures. Keywords: volunteers, emergency management, investments, the Czech Republic, rescue system, economic value of volunteering.
volunteers, emergency management, investments, the Czech Republic, rescue system, economic value of volunteering