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Disaster and Volunteering Resources

When tragedies occur, members, non-members and other organizations frequently contact ACEP to determine what role or action ACEP is taking to provide relief or coordinate assistance.

ACEP is a non-profit, professional medical association that is the leading advocate for emergency physicians, their patients and the public.
ACEP is not a disaster relief organization and does not coordinate physician relief efforts.

However, we do offer guidance for health care professionals interested in assisting disaster medical response. 


UPDATE AUG. 28, 2017 - The Texas Medical Board is suspending rules to allow any licensed physician to assist with #HurricaneHarvey disaster response operations. Get details at http://www.tmb.state.tx.us/

ACEP's Role in Disasters

Historically, members of ACEP’s Disaster Medicine Section and its Section on International Emergency Medicine, acting as individuals, have been involved in disaster settings not only in this country, but around the world. Many members have had the opportunity to work for the International Red Cross, the State Department, CDC, HHS, VA, and non-governmental agencies that have been tasked to domestic and world events.

The Mexico City earthquake of 1985 first brought the idea of disaster assistance to the College’s attention. It was decided at that time not to directly organize relief efforts due to liability concerns, but rather, provide supportive measures such as training, educational events, linking up resources, and providing content expertise for those who request it.

Volunteer Opportunities

The American Medical Association has a listing of international organizations that offer overseas volunteer opportunities

American Red Cross

Doctors Without Borders

Emergency System for Advanced Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESAR-VHP)

HealthRight International (formerly Doctors of the World)

International Medical Corps California

Project Hope

Medical Reserve Corps -- A component of the Citizen Corps and the USA Freedom Corps

Medical Direction of a Community Emergency Response Team

The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster

United States Agency for International Development


Coping with Trauma

The effects of a disaster, terrorist attack, or other public health emergency can be long-lasting, and the resulting trauma can affect those not directly impacted by the disaster. CDC’s “Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event” web page lists resources that provide general strategies for promoting mental health and resilience. These materials were developed by various organizations on the basis of experiences in prior emergencies.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Resources

The SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, year-round crisis counseling and support for persons experiencing signs of distress as a result of disaster:


  • Call 1-800-985-5990
  • Call TTY for deaf/hearing impaired 1-800-846-8517
  • Text TalkWithUs to 66746


SAMHSA has additional resources on dealing with disaster at the SAMHSA website, http://disasterdistress.samhsa.gov/.


Additional Information From ACEP EMS and Disaster Preparedness Staff

Rick Murray, EMT-P - Director

Pat Elmes, EMT-P - Manager

Deanna Harper, EMT-I - Coordinator

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