Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Volunteer management system design and analysis for disaster response and recovery
by Fernandez, Lauren S., D.Sc., The George Washington University, 2007, 181; 3297450
Abstract (Summary)

During disasters, large numbers of people and groups unaffiliated with traditional emergency response organizations converge at the scene to offer assistance. These spontaneous volunteers can be a significant resource, but are often ineffectively used and can actually hinder emergency activities by creating health, safety, and security problems and distracting responders from their duties. The challenge for incident managers is to capitalize on the available volunteer resources while ensuring safety and the responders' ability to effectively perform tasks within the established incident command system. This research presents a systems-based approach to planning for spontaneous volunteer management in disasters. This requires a disaster volunteer management system (VMS). Historical evidence and new national strategies to increase volunteerism heighten the importance of an effective, efficient, and inclusive VMS. To date, disaster volunteer management is not a robust part of many local, state, and national plans, nor has it been significantly addressed in the National Incident Management System.

The research works to answer two questions: (1) What are the essential disaster volunteer management functions to leverage opportunities and manage associated risks? The research provides a comprehensive analysis of volunteer management literature, systems, and plans, to identify causal factors and intervening management functions to manage the risks and leverage opportunities. A functional model for the VMS is developed based on this analysis. (2) What are the required resources of a volunteer management system as a function of volunteer response? Once necessary functions are identified, it is important to understand the resources needed to carry out the associated activities. If managers understand the constraints, or chokepoints, of the system, they can better allocate resources and estimate the capacity of the system. A proof-of-concept simulation model of the inter-related volunteer processing components was developed based on data from an exercise of an actual system. Different design alternatives were analyzed to determine needed resources for a specific VMS implementation.

The research findings can assist organizations in designing tailored effective, efficient, and inclusive volunteer management systems. The research methodology also contributes to the field of systems engineering through the application of a systems approach to a critical emergency management issue.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Dorp, Rene van
Commitee: Barbera, Joseph, Campos-Nanez, Enrique, Clizbe, John, Harrald, John
School: The George Washington University
Department: Engineering Mgt and Systems Engineering
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-B 69/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Public administration, Systems design
Keywords: Disasters, Emergency response, Simulation, Volunteers
Publication Number: 3297450
ISBN: 9780549460749
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