TOPANGA—With the recent fire in the Topanga Canyon area and the wildfires that rampaged LA in 2007, state officials have long since felt the need to create a highly standardized and efficient volunteer training program to assist in disaster relief. As a result, on Friday, Governor Schwarzenegger announced the launch of the nation’s first volunteer training program.  The California Disaster Corps is designed to institutionalize and implement volunteer training techniques for disaster relief efforts.

Volunteers will register with their local governments through the Disaster Service Worker Volunteer Program. Disaster Corps will then train them, taking them through a nationally standardized process that allows volunteers to provide efficient and informed assistance in times of local, regional and national crises. They will be trained to exemplify the security, typing and certification guidelines and standards set by the program to ensure that volunteers are properly equipped to deal with disasters in a uniform and effective manner.

In a press release put out by the Governor’s office, the program was outlined as an initiative designed and “built collaboratively from the ground up through public-private partnerships and with a wide range of subject matter experts including representatives from all levels of government, local emergency managers, state agency volunteer coordinators and leaders in non-governmental volunteer programs.”

California Volunteers, the state office that regulates and manages California residents who give service and volunteer, awarded Los Angeles, along with four other counties, over one million dollars in homeland security funding. The money will go towards background checks and First Aid training for one coordinator for each county, along with the first 1000 members who register for the program.  In addition to their role in coordinating Disaster Corps funding, California Volunteers has launched a tool for keeping track of state volunteers.  The program includes an online database that keeps track of member history, training background and other important information that state officials active in volunteering efforts will be able to access.

In his speech, Schwarzenegger spoke of the program’s innovative and exciting design.  He said, “Volunteers are an incredible resource, and no state has more giving, more passionate or more dedicated volunteers than California. Together, we will take volunteerism to a whole new level and make California better prepared and better equipped than ever before, for any emergency.”

The Disaster Corps program will be a great asset to our community as well as statewide.  Under state guidance, volunteers now have the opportunity to come together with a highly efficient and standardized set of tools that will be of enormous service to California in times of need.  For more information, please visit the California Volunteers website at