Melissa J. Nixon, DVM
The truth of the matter is that when there are not any disasters for a while, your ARG does not deploy, and folks begin to drift off to other projects. Then when a disaster hits, your group is perhaps not current on certification, volunteers are rusty on their training, supply kits have degraded, and disposable supplies are perhaps out of date. It is important to plan ahead how you are going to maintain your resources over the long haul.
Every single time your ARG has an exercise or a drill, a new class of volunteers graduates, you deploy to an Incident, a member certifies with another group or attends a convention, or you participate in a county exercise - the group needs to debrief, make a list of lessons learned and recommendations, and update the plan and manual accordingly.
Various volunteer committees can address such things as keeping truck supply boxes and initial setup kits properly stocked with supplies including necessary forms, updating forms or creating new ones, doing maintenance at the fairgrounds if that is your main sheltering location, rotating veterinary supplies (this should be done by veterinarians or veterinary technicians), rotating other supplies with expiration dates, and planning training exercises.
More experienced volunteers can mentor new volunteers.
Some folks may be interested in political advocacy for such causes as co-evacuation of humans and animals at the state and national level.
Fundraising cannot be ignored; a volunteer committee can brainstorm and perhaps plan some events, place donation cans in businesses, and learn the ins and outs of applying for FEMA funds after an actual disaster incident.
Garner more funds, and more volunteers, by having a presence at every possible community event: county fair, harvest festival, horse shows, dog agility trials, whatever.
Continue to offer the basic training course at least once a year. Offer annual upgrade opportunities to your existing volunteers.
Your state veterinary medical association or county OES may have training opportunities for Public Information Officers; be sure to take advantage of those and enjoy the chance to network while receiving invaluable training for your PIO and Incident Commander.
Require volunteers to attend a certain number of meetings, plus the tabletop and the live drill, every year to keep their certification active.
Resource type your volunteers and make them available at the state level for mutual aid to other localities during disaster incidents.