BATON ROUGE – With the threat of hurricane season and flu season looming, hundreds of Louisiana residents ready to lend a helping hand during emergencies are converging on Baton Rouge this Wednesday, August 19 to prepare themselves to serve during times of crisis.  The third annual Louisiana Volunteer Summit will train volunteers and volunteer organizations on state emergency operations and prepare volunteers who may work during an emergency. 

 "Our goal is to better organize and train our volunteers to take our emergency response to the next level," said Office of Public Health Assistant Secretary M. Rony Francois, M.D., MSPH, Ph.D.

Summit participants will increase their knowledge of emergency operations and improve their response capabilities during a natural disaster or manmade crisis or emergency.

           What:      Louisiana Volunteer Summit
           When:     August 19, 2009
                           9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
           Where:    Crowne Plaza Hotel
                           4728 Constitution Ave.
                           Baton Rouge, La.

Last year, the work of volunteers helped the state get through the aftermath of back-to-back hurricanes. "It was those extra hands that helped to sustain us while our citizens were displaced and Louisiana was responding to two hurricanes in less than a month," said Dr. Francois.

For more information on the Louisiana Volunteer Summit, contact Mardrah Starks-Robinson, program manager for Office of Public Health’s Center for Community Preparedness, at (225) 763-3965.

Those interested in volunteering can sign up with Louisiana Volunteers in Action (LAVA), DHH’s volunteer management program. Prospective volunteers should register at www.lava.dhh.louisiana.gov.  LDH-OPH volunteer coordinators will then call registered volunteers with information on when and where to report during an emergency.                                                                                                                

Volunteers do not have to be medical professionals. LDH-OPH officials are asking anyone who registers to be ready to assist. Those who register may be assigned to help at a Medical Special Needs Shelter or at the state’s bus triage operation.  Non-medical volunteers may be asked to feed patients or perform clerical tasks. Medical volunteers will be involved in direct patient care.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.

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