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PA Secretary of Health Recognizes Pennsylvania Volunteers; Urges Greater Citizen Involvement
Date:4/17/2009

'National Volunteer Week' is April 19 - April 25

HARRISBURG, Pa., April 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Health Secretary Everette James today praised Pennsylvania's volunteers for selflessly giving their time to help communities prepare for and respond to disasters and urged other citizens to join those important efforts.

"National Volunteer Week starts Sunday and is a great opportunity to thank our volunteers for generously sharing their time, energy and expertise to make Pennsylvania a safer place," said Secretary James. "Volunteers play an essential role in ensuring every community is ready to respond to large-scale disasters like floods, infectious epidemics or acts of terrorism.

"Coordinating a medical response during a large-scale disaster is a tremendous challenge. The best way to meet that challenge is to have a system in place - like our SERVPA registry - that can identify and deploy registered, pre-credentialed medical volunteers."

The State Emergency Registry of Volunteers in Pennsylvania, or SERVPA, is a statewide secure database of pre-credentialed health care professionals and others who are interested in volunteering their services in the event of a disaster or public health emergency. It was created in response to a federal mandate to improve the nation's disaster response capability.

The registry's comprehensive, standardized Web site manages up-to-date registration information, ensures a proper vetting process of individuals who sign up, and keeps track of potential deployment of volunteers to serve disaster-affected communities when needed.

SERVPA's key features include:

  • Collection and validation of identity, credentials, licenses and other important information;
  • Coordination of preparedness planning;
  • Activation and deployment of volunteers, including the initial notification, polling for availability, and assignment tasking;
  • Tracking participants on deployment; and
  • Responding to requests for emergency assistance from other states.

The registry is part of a national preparedness program called the Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals. However, medical and non-medical volunteers may participate.

SERVPA is coordinated through the Office of Public Health Preparedness, which supports the Pennsylvania Department of Health's efforts to prepare for, protect against, respond to, and recover from all acts of bioterrorism and other public health emergencies.

National Volunteer Week was created in 1974 as an annual celebration of volunteering. The theme for this year's observance is "Celebrating People in Action."

For more information about SERVPA, visit www.serv.pa.gov or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH. To learn more about health preparedness for Pennsylvanians, visit www.health.state.pa.us.

    CONTACT:  Penny Kline
    (717) 787-1783


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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health
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