Category Archives: American Red Cross

American Red Cross releases new Reunification doctrine

American Red Cross Reunification doctrine

When a disaster occurs with large numbers of fatalities or injuries, individuals who are unaccounted for, damage to communication infrastructure and evacuations etc., a local jurisdiction can quickly become overwhelmed with requests from concerned loved ones. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Reunification services was primarily a reactive activity, responding to high volumes of inquiries that often overwhelmed Red Cross phone lines and emergency services, spreading efforts thin. Since Katrina, the Safe and Well website has helped alleviate this burden by allowing reunification workers to concentrate resources on those who are most vulnerable during a disaster.

As a co-lead with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the Mass Care component of the Emergency Support Function 6 (ESF6) in the National Response Framework, Red Cross has a commitment to provide Reunification services.  Additionally, the Red Cross Reunification services are incorporated into a variety of state and county emergency response plans, continuity of operations plans, and family communications plans that serve to ease the burden on emergency services during a disaster.

The Reunification Program principles are to improve the quality of service provided to clients who want to notify others that they are safe, seek others who are unaccounted for, reestablish contact when separated from family and deliver reunification services consistently across the country.

The following principles define the Reunification Program:

 Emergency welfare inquiries and family reunification requests receive highest priority;

 Follow-up always occurs with the emergency welfare inquiries and family reunification requests;

 Unaccompanied Minors and Separated Children are kept safe and provided with swift transfer or reunification through working with relevant partners;

 Client information is protected;

 Accurate information is provided;

 Services are provided fairly and consistently across the organization.





American Red Cross releases new shelter doctrine

The American Red Cross

Link to American Red Cross Shelter Forms

Red Cross provides congregate sheltering services to meet the immediate housing needs of individuals and communities directly impacted by disaster.  Few activities are more central to the core mission of the Red Cross than sheltering those impacted by disaster. Shelters provide a safe and secure place for individuals and families to stay during and after a disaster and the Red Cross brand is widely recognized as a symbol of refuge. 

Multiple agencies manage shelters during a disaster, including Red Cross.  Other agencies may be managing a shelter in cooperation with Red Cross, with or without receiving Red Cross support, or they may be managing a shelter completely independently.   Partner Managed Shelters are managed by partners, following Red Cross principles, in cooperation with the Red Cross.

The shelter materials posted here by the Red Cross are available for use by any agency managing a shelter.

Mass Care Seminar in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania

Leveraging Regional Partnerships for Better Local Planning

On March 18, 2016, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Regional Task Force (SEPA RTF) and the Health and Human Services Workgroup (HHS WG) sponsored a Mass Care Seminar at the Montgomery County Fire Academy in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania to bring together local and regional key stakeholders to discuss mass care preparedness and response planning. This seminar was the second exercise in a series of activities to explore and improve the region’s mass care emergency support function (ESF #6) capacity and capabilities.

Over 60 participants from over 30 local, state, and federal agencies and service providers attended the seminar from key sectors such as emergency management, public health, nongovernmental organizations, human services, and advocacy groups representing access and functional needs and disabled populations.

Participants enjoyed six informational sessions led by nationally recognized subject matter experts in mass care, including Denise Grimm, Dawn Skaggs, and Jon Bodie from BCFS Health and Human Services and Michael Whitehead from the American Red Cross National Headquarters. Session topics provided mass care planning information, best practices, and methods for improving local mass care plans and partnerships. The six sessions led participants through key issues such as providing medical care in local mass care shelters, how to support those with access and functional needs both in planning and in response, incorporating mental health services in emergency planning and sheltering, and how to better coordinate and incorporate nongovernmental organizations and other non-traditional agencies into the local mass care process.

Seminar participants described this effort as important for enhancing agency networking and improving partnerships. Several attendees agreed that the information was crucial but also validated their own organizational directives and planning efforts. The motto “Be Ready, Not Relaxed” was provided by one of the participants, who stated that the seminar was a great collaboration for the region and hoped to see more opportunities like this one for future coordination.

Information from the seminar is available online at: Seminar materials include event objectives, speaker bios, and presentations as well as a list of online resources mentioned throughout the day.

More About the Sponsor:

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Regional Task Force – Health and Human Services Workgroup includes the City and County of Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County. The Health and Human Services Workgroup continues to work to improve the local and regional mass care response within the region through an integrative, collaborative, and cooperative program that builds, maintains, and enhances preparedness capabilities among regional stakeholders.

Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) Planning Resource

The Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) Planning Resource describes duties and responsibilities of individuals, agencies and volunteer organizations in the event of a disaster. The MARC Planning Resource is a living document and the contributors acknowledge there will be changes for each community and instance. The experience and knowledge regarding MARCs is growing. Over time, there will be new and different complexities and challenges, new lessons learned and knowledge gained, and lives improved on the path to recovery. Please share this knowledge and experience with others by collecting and recording information, experiences, expenses and decisions that help people in their time of need.

 Development of the MARC Planning Resource was highly collaborative and written based on the experience of the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities and The Salvation Army, as this is the experience and knowledge of the contributors and reviewers.  All three organizations were involved throughout the development of the material.

 Additional reviews were completed by teams at FEMA, Catholic Charities, The Salvation Army and Red Cross. Over 50 additional individuals provided comments and input to this document, and we hope we have improved the document based on their feedback.

 Also utilized in the development of the document were coalitions and the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOADs) in the following states: Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina. Feedback was also incorporated in real time from existing MARCs and MARC exercises.

 In addition, a course is available through the American Red Cross:

Online courses are available 24/7 in the Red Cross EDGE learning system at:

Non-Red Cross volunteers can access EDGE by registering at:


New Release: Shelter Field Guide

Shelter Field Guide

The purpose of the Shelter Field Guide is to provide sheltering best practices to faith-based groups, non-profit organizations, government partners, and private industry. The guide was co-developed by the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency with support of a work group that included all levels of government.

The Shelter Field Guide has eight sections that cover the standard activities and tasks which occur during the pre-opening, opening, ongoing, and closing phases of shelter operations. Each section contains information for workers in registration, feeding, dormitory management, health and mental health care, staffing, logistics and shelter management. Additionally, the guide provides position checklists and training outlines for each position so that spontaneous shelter managers can use the guide to train their personnel.

The Shelter Field Guide can be used as a job aid and/or just in time training during a disaster operation.

Download the Shelter Field Guide

Shelter Field Guide FAQ and Ordering Instructions

Print Specifications for the Shelter Field Guide