Volunteer Disaster Service Worker Team

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DSW Team

The Disaster Service Worker Program was developed to supplement professional responders such as police officers, fire fighters, and medical providers during large incidents and disasters. Team members receive regular training to develop and maintain their skills.

In a large-scale disaster, such as an earthquake, the members will be utilized according to standing orders and be deployed where needed most in the community. For other emergencies, such as flooding, or a search for a missing person, the members will respond and be functionally organized in the manner best suited for that operation (search teams, sandbagging, etc.)

Program members have received basic emergency response training and have completed the Simi Valley CERT Academy, which is a pre-requisite to participate as a DSW Team member.

 Mission Statement

The Simi Valley Disaster Service Worker Program mission is to minimize the loss of life, suffering, and damage to property following disasters by training and utilizing highly motivated community members in preparedness, response, and recovery activities.

Common Questions asked about the Volunteer Disaster Service Worker Team

What are the minimum requirements to be on the DSW Team?

You must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. Citizen, possess a valid CA driver’s license/auto insurance and be in good standing in the community. Due the nature of disaster response work, each prospective member must pass an oral interview and a background check conducted by the Police Department. DSW members must maintain a cellphone and e-mail account and possess good computer skills.  Members must be in good physical condition and have the desire to help others, train hard, learn new skills and belong to a team.

Does it matter where I live?

Yes. DSW Team members must live in Simi Valley at the time of appointment. The primary mission of the team is to serve the community of Simi Valley first and foremost. When requested, the DSW Team may be activated to support other communities in Ventura County.

Do I need any prior skills or training?

Yes. Familiarity with paramilitary organizations, the Incident Command System (ICS), and experience working with first responder agencies, such as Police, Fire, and EMS would be an asset.  Any prior military experience or experience as a safety team member in private industry would be helpful as well. Individuals interested in joining the DSW Team must provide documentation of completion of the Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) curriculum.  DSW candidates must have completed the CERT curriculum taught in Ventura County, sometime during the previous 3-years. Successful completion of the FEMA IS-317 course (http://emilms.fema.gov/IS0317/) is also required prior to commencement of the background process to join the team. All DSW Team members must obtain their FCC Ham Radio Technicians License within 1-year of appointment to the team. All other training and skills will be taught as a part of the ongoing DSW training program.

Do DSW Team members get paid?

No.  DSW Team members are strictly volunteers, therefore they are not compensated. The strong desire to help others and be a part of a team can provide a great deal of personal satisfaction for these volunteers. If training or team activations occur during a DSW's regular work hours, many team members receive permission from their employers to use paid vacation leave in order to participate in these types of activities. 

How much personal time is required from team members each month?

Being a member of the DSW Team definitely requires a concerted commitment. The DSW Team meets as often as once a month for training. Beyond that, there is an average of 6-7 activities each month that could require participation from team members.  These activities are related to training, administrative support, outreach & education at community events, and maintenance of the City's emergency equipment. These activities may only take as little as a few hours, a full day, or multiple days to complete. Volunteer time can be greatly increased if the team is activated to respond to an emergency or disaster. A DSW Team member must have the full support of their family and employer in order to be a viable asset to the City and their teammates.

Are there any “out-of-pocket” expenses? 

Yes. DSW Team members are responsible for purchasing their initial basic uniform which consists of uniform pants/belt and boots. The City of Simi Valley supplies a standard uniform shirt and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which consists of a Search and Rescue vest/pack, headlamp, flashlight, cold weather jacket, rain jacket, helmet, gloves, hat, hi-visibility vest, knee pads, ham radio, and other miscellaneous tools. Members are encouraged to purchase additional equipment as desired.

Are there any Physical Fitness Requirements?

Yes.  Members of the DSW Team are expected to maintain good physical fitness and physical readiness at all times. Some of the activities that team members are expected to perform during training, exercises, drills and actual disasters are listed here:

  • Prolonged exposure to heat, cold, odors, liquids, and possible hazardous materials
  • Climbing, walking, running, jumping, crawling while wearing/carrying gear and equipment
  • Pulling, pushing, dragging, lifting, and carrying objects that weigh greater than 50 pounds
  • Lifting and carrying people/bodies, with or without the aid of backboards, etc.
  • Standing and/or sitting for extended periods of time in all weather conditions

I’d like to become a member of the Disaster Service Worker Team, how do I proceed?

If you would like to become a member of the City of Simi Valley Volunteer Disaster Service Worker Team, please download and print an application.  We host an informational meeting 2-times each year. During this meeting, we'll provide an overview of all the requirements necessary to become a team member as well as answer any questions you may have.  If you would like to be notified when those meetings are going to take place send an e-mail to:  dswteam@simivalley.org

Inquiries can be sent to: dswteam@simivalley.org or via U.S. mail to:
City of Simi Valley Police Department
Emergency Services Coordinator
3901 Alamo Street
Simi Valley, CA 93063
ATTENTION:  DSW Team

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