About WAServWAserv is the registration and contact system for emergency volunteers and has been in place since 2012. Part of a national initiative, WAserv allows medical, public health and other emergency response professionals to pre-register as emergency volunteers. The system also helps us better communicate with volunteers about preparedness activities and ongoing training opportunities.
Become a volunteer
The first step is to register at WAServ.org. See this registration guide (PDF) for instructions. If you already have a current WAserv account, you do not need to create a new account. Applications are screened to ensure the volunteer's health license is in good standing in each state where they are licensed. The Department of Health will activate approved volunteers as needs arise while an emergency proclamation is in effect.
Volunteers should also consider registering the following groups:
- Local Medical Reserve Corps. The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is a national network of volunteers, organized locally to improve the health and safety of their communities. MRC volunteers supplement existing emergency and public health resources. MRC units are community-based and locally organized. Washington currently has 21 Medical Reserve Corps units.
- Local Volunteer Management Unit (VMU). Since MRC units are not located in every county, you may need to register with a local Volunteer Management Unit. They provide a general pool of volunteers that is managed by your local health district and/or partners. Volunteers need to register in at least one organization.
- Tribal Nation. Volunteers can register by nation of membership and/or affiliation.
During the COVID-19 response, RCW 70.15 and an Emergency Authority signed by the Secretary of Health has allowed out of state volunteers and retired healthcare practitioners to register in WAserv and volunteer within their medical scope of practice. Visit our emergency volunteer page for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is WAserv?
WAserv stands for the Washington State Emergency Registry of Volunteers. It allows local administrators and volunteer managers to efficiently identify, activate, and deploy medical and support volunteers. It also provides information about training and exercises.
WAserv is part of the Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESAR-VHP). It is a national network of state-based programs used to verify the identity, licenses, and credentials of trained health care, public health, and support professionals before an emergency happens.
- What is the registration process?
Registering in WAserv is as simple as logging on to the website and entering your information. It only takes around 20-30 minutes to sign up. Simply register at the WAserv home page to begin the process. If you are already a member of another volunteer program, please indicate that during the registration process.
To make things easier, you should have information about your applicable licenses, skills, or certifications readily available to complete the registration process smoothly. You may start and stop the registration process at any time. Simply log in to the system using the username and password you created to complete any incomplete section. Once you finish the registration process, you will be contacted by a VMU or MRC or Tribal Nation coordinator.
- How often should I update my information?
You should update your personal information (e.g. address, phone number and e-mail), as soon as it changes. You should also review your data on a periodic basis, usually at 6 or 12-month intervals. It's vital to keep your contact information up to date in order to be contacted when needed.
- Once I register, am I obligated to volunteer during an emergency?
Your participation in either an emergency response or a planned community service event, such as a vaccination clinic, is entirely voluntary. You may pick and choose among the opportunities offered. Your status as a volunteer is not affected if you do not volunteer for a specific event.
- Who has access to my personal information?
Only your local administrator, specified staff at the Washington State Department of Health, and the contracted database vendor have access to your information. Everyone with access to your information is highly trained in proper security and privacy protocols. Your information is maintained in a central, secure database. Your information is ONLY used to contact you about local volunteer program activities. This may include; requesting your participation in a disaster drill or exercise; providing you with program information; or requesting your assistance during a large-scale disaster or public health emergency.
- How am I notified about volunteer opportunities?
Volunteer opportunities are sent via email and telephone using the contact information in the WAserv database. Please be sure that your information is accurate and up-to-date.
- Are there mandatory training requirements?
Training requirements vary by program. MRC unit volunteers are required to participate in a volunteer orientation and take several online courses. These courses prepare you for disaster responses and how to ensure personal and family safety during a disaster. Your local unit will inform you of these requirements once your application is accepted. You will also receive notices of additional classes, events, and exercises. Some will be in-person and others will be online. Some training will provide continuing education units, depending on the licensure.
- Do volunteers participate in disaster exercises and community events?
Your VMU, MRC or Tribal Nation coordinator may notify you of opportunities to participate in local, regional, or state-level exercises. You may also be notified of opportunities to participate in non-emergency volunteer events such as flu shot clinics, health education fairs and community health fairs.
- How does a volunteer fit in during an emergency response?
When volunteering for an emergency, you become part of the overall response and are working within the Incident Command System (ICS). Under this system, you are assigned a specific role that is managed by organizational authorities. It is unlikely that you will be assigned a leadership role as a volunteer. In general, you are volunteering as an individual with expertise in your field of practice. Your VMU / MRC / Tribal Nation coordinator may ask you to assume a leadership or management role for routine training and administrative purposes, but you should not expect this leadership role to extend to emergency responses.
- Are there opportunities to deploy outside my local area or even out of state?
Volunteers can specify deployment preferences, but they typically serve their local communities. Depending on your preferences, you may be contacted if assistance is needed in other locations during statewide emergencies. You might be asked to assist in other states during federal emergencies. Deployments vary depending on the event, and volunteers may decline to participate at any time. Volunteers who accept an out-of-state or federal assignment may be asked to provide additional information in the registry.
- Is volunteering right for me?
Emergency response is not for everyone. In spite of safety precautions, risks can include physical danger and injury, exposure to potentially dangerous pathogens or chemicals, emotional trauma and exhaustion. You need to consider personal, professional and family needs or concerns as you make an informed decision. Some other considerations might include personal health, childcare and family conflicts.
FAQ Disclaimer: Please note that these FAQs are for informational purposes only. Nothing within these FAQs is meant to provide legal guidance or advice to any person. Rather, these FAQs are meant to serve as an assessment tool for individuals who are considering participation in the WAserv Volunteer Registry.
If you have a general questions not listed above, please free to contact us via email.