Sample Volunteer Contract
Disaster Preparedness Manual
Melissa J. Nixon, DVM


When you have completed initial training, passed the examination, and signed the loyalty oath required by the state, you will receive a photo identification card. This identification card must be on your person at all times while you are volunteering with our animal response team whether during a drill or an actual disaster incident.

Blue cards are issued to licensed veterinarians, yellow cards to those with 60 hours or more of training, green cards to registered veterinary technicians, and white cards to those who have completed our initial training course. If you are a licensed professional, please also carry your pocket license while working with us.

The issue date of your card reflects your length of tenure with our animal response team. Each card will have a unique number; an updated list of member names, identifying numbers, and card type will be issued to the county OES office annually or whenever training has been upgraded.

Stars or other emblems are issued to all participants at the conclusion of a disaster incident. If you did not work the incident, you will not receive a star. These emblems are worn on the ID cards and reflect the actual frontline experience of the bearer.

If you do not have your ID badge with you, do not expect anyone, from our group or any other disaster response agency, to accept you as a bona fide member of the disaster team. Volunteers who have not completed training and received an ID card are not eligible to participate in a disaster incident response nor in a drill involving live animals.

Your ID card will not be considered valid in any disaster incident unless our unit has been duly deployed through proper channels.

You are not eligible to be a first responder in any other county. Our animal response team may be asked to assist in other locations as second responders, but you may only deploy as a part of the group and upon official request.


You are expected to provide your own medical insurance and vehicle insurance including collision and comprehensive. You will receive workers compensation coverage during training and during response to an incident, including transportation to and from an incident. The workers compensation does not cover travel to and from training. Once you are a certified disaster service worker, you will be protected on liability issues by the Good Samaritan laws of this state. Professionals are advised to check with their insurance carriers regarding professional liability coverage. While you would be protected by the Good Samaritan laws, there are some gaps if you are judged to have been grossly negligent. If you are using a trailer to haul animals, it must be insured separately from the tow vehicle. Personal property is not covered by state insurance and you are advised to check your homeowner's or renter's insurance regarding coverage for personal property losses. Animals being transported during a disaster are not covered by the state; you are advised to check with your vehicle insurer regarding coverage of animals being transported. You are advised to read the document Disaster Volunteer Liability Fact Sheet on the cdfa website for more specific details on state insurance coverage.


If your attire is inappropriate for a task, you will be reassigned to a safer position. This is for your co-workers' safety as well as your own. Please do not wear open-toed shoes. Please do not wear orange outer garments as that color is reserved for prison crews working with CDF!


If you are not in robust health, do not attempt front line duty. There are many positions where only a healthy mind is required. Specifics of your health status do not necessarily need to be disclosed, but it is clearly your own responsibility to be sure that the work you are assigned to is appropriate for your own health status. As an incident wears on, medical problems that are not usually limiting become significant; please notify the veterinary coordinator, first-aid doctor, or your immediate supervisor promptly so that you can be reassigned or excused.

Please remember that blood on the surface of an animal may not necessarily have originated from that animal. Blood may be human blood inadvertently spilled on the animal's coat during the disaster or an attempted rescue. Because of infectious agents such as hepatitis and AIDS, your potential exposure to human blood is generally a much greater risk than exposure to animal blood. The risk is increased if you have any open sores that contact the blood. Please wear rubber gloves, CPR masks, and take other appropriate measures to protect yourself from exposure to human blood.

Animals being extracted from a disaster scene may have toxic agents on their bodies requiring decontamination procedures. Please wear appropriate protective gear and follow designated decontamination procedures.

Disaster scenes may contain toxins such as chemicals, mold, smoke, or radioactive material; please wear appropriate protective gear.

You are responsible for keeping your tetanus vaccinations up to date. We recommend that you be vaccinated for hepatitis, rabies, and influenza prior to working an incident. Please carry certification of your vaccinations.

Rabies is a very serious risk in a disaster situation, especially in endemic areas. Do not handle wildlife, do take proper precautions to avoid animal bites, and if bitten report IMMEDIATELY to the incident commander of the animal response team as well as the human medical officer. If the biting animal is not available for either quarantine observation or direct brain examination, you are advised to go through the rabies vaccination and immunoglobulin series.


We expect exemplary behavior from all volunteers at all times. The command structure is to be respected and neither usurped nor ignored at any time. The incident commander currently on duty is the ultimate decision-maker for all situations within the animal response team or between the animal response team and another agency.

If a duty schedule is in force, you may be sent home if working outside your assigned time slot or work position. Fatigue clouds judgment, shortens tempers, and affects the quality of your work on subsequent shifts.

Any confrontational behavior, evidence of illegal drug use, alcohol consumption, inappropriate smoking, willful failure to follow instructions, interference with the work of others, or evidence of theft may incur reassignment, surrender of badge, or relief of duty for a period of time. Any other obviously inappropriate behavior will be handled similarly.

Food and Shelter

You are expected to bring whatever clothing, food, drinking water, medication, bedding, and personal care supplies that you will need during the first 96 hours (4 days) of the disaster incident. If appropriate and feasible, bring your own shelter from rain or sun. You may not be able to return home or leave the facility to purchase necessary items. Please arrive with a full tank of gas in your vehicle and spare batteries for flashlights and other devices. There are no kitchen facilities and may not be any bathroom facilities during the first response time period.

Your Own Come First

If your own animals, your family, your home, or your business is at risk from a progressing disaster, please take care of your own before reporting to help others. This includes evacuation of your own animals. If you have already committed to an immediate response, let the scheduler know that you will be late or absent, especially if you are expected to fill a leadership position.


After every training drill and after every disaster incident response in which you have participated, you will be expected to participate in a debriefing either individually or in a group setting. A 'lessons learned' document will be generated and then a list of recommendations to be incorporated into future responses.


While disaster response is personally rewarding, it is also highly stressful. You may be dealing with emotionally distraught disaster victims, see dead people or animals, or feel frustrated by your inability to save every animal. You may be injured yourself, lose loved ones, or suffer the loss of material items. You may feel depression or anger up to several months after the incident is concluded. It is much better to get help dealing with this stress than to let it fester. Please take advantage of the counseling teams available to our volunteers either during or after the incident. We have some counselors embedded with our group and others are available through Red Cross or other agencies. Contact the human medical team, incident commander, or your team leader for further assistance.

I have read the above information and understand the rules stated. I agree to all points of this contract. I have recited the loyalty oath as required by the state. I have completed at least 4 hours of training. I am at least 18 years of age. I agree to a background check. I have been issued an animal response team identification card. I understand that if I break the rules of this contract I may have to surrender my ID card and forfeit my membership status permanently.


(Oath administrator)__________________

(ID card color)________________________

(ID card number)_____________________

(Next of kin name)____________________


(Out of area contact name)_____________


(Print volunteer's name)_______________


Speaker Information
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Melissa J. Nixon, DVM

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