ServNY Volunteer Management System FAQ

What is ServNY?

The ServNY Volunteer Management System (VMS) is part of a national volunteer recruitment effort for public health emergencies. The goal is to recruit licensed medical and health care volunteers. ServNY efficiently pre-registers, manages, and deploys (sends to emergency site) medical and health care professionals and support staff into their or other communities needing emergency help. In counties that do not have any volunteer registry, ServNY can be the lead agency.

How does ServNY work?

Once a volunteer registers, ServNY collects and confirms his or her information. That includes contact information, licensure, credentials, training history, emergency response experience, and personal skills. Volunteers are free to accept or decline assignments. They can be called upon to help before, during, and after emergencies. ServNY also provides volunteers with information about training and exercises.

Where do volunteers serve?

ServNY volunteers can help in their own or nearby communities.They also have the option to help at emergencies in other parts of New York State and even in other states. ServNY is part of the Volunteer Management System (VMS) and volunteers are automatically registered to serve, if they choose, beyond their community.

What is the key to ServNY's successful volunteer response?

ServNY is able to pre-register and confirm professional licensing and credentials before an emergency. Studies show that effective emergency responses use volunteers who are pre-registered and credentialed, and deployed through a coordinated effort.

Does ServNY use volunteers who show up unexpectedly during the emergency?

Not often. Volunteers who are not part of ServNY are unable to be assigned or used. Staff are busy handling the emergency at hand. There is limited time and resources to process volunteers and check their licenses and credentials.

I have no medical skills. Can I still volunteer?

Yes. The emphasis is on the recruitment of licensed medical and health care volunteers. However, people without any medical training are welcomed to register. They may be able to fill general roles. Examples are language translators; American Sign Language interpreters for people who are deaf and hearing impaired; administration; transportation; computer and clerical work, and experience with animals.

Do I need any special training or expertise to volunteer?

A local volunteer coordinator will contact you with training opportunities and requirements. Free volunteer training -some available online- is provided on many emergency related topics. If classroom training is available, you may receive an email. Also, you may have just-in-time (immediate and on-the -job) training once you arrive at the emergency. You will learn what you need to know to help others and to keep yourself safe.

How many volunteers are needed for an emergency situation?

That depends on the magnitude of the emergency. A major emergency could overwhelm on-duty medical and first responder staffs especially during the first 12 to 72 hours. Volunteers of all skills would be called upon to provide help during the first critical days. Volunteers would help with any staff shortages and fill in the gaps. It's expected some volunteers won't be to help at the requested time. That's why it's important there's a sufficient number of volunteers available so communities have enough volunteers.

What is required for participation?

You must first register through ServNY. The volunteer coordinator may contact you about your expectations. During an activation, you will be contacted through the system and be asked about your availability. All volunteers can accept or refuse a request. These are voluntary deployments.

How do I register?

To register, click You will be guided to a registration screen and given the option to register through the Health Commerce System (HCS), which is used by health care professionals throughout the state, or by establishing a user account. If you are an existing Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) member or in a County Volunteer Program, please indicate your participation in that program during the registration process by selecting the county program you belong to.

Can I volunteer if I'm not licensed or practicing in a medical field?

Yes. Whether you are actively licensed, a student, retired health professional, or someone with an interest in volunteering, you can register.

I am a retired health care professional who is licensed. Am I still eligible to register?

Absolutely! Retired medical professionals' wealth of knowledge and experience are recognized and valued. Also, retired health professionals are more likely to be available because license and employed professionals may be needed at their work place.

I am not working but keep by license active. Can I register?

Yes. You're encouraged to register to lend a hand. Licensed and employed professionals will probably be needed at their work places and unable to volunteer.

I have an out-of-state license. Am I still eligible to register in the volunteer register?

Yes. However, you will be approved only as a non-medical volunteer.

What is the Emergency System for Advanced Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESAR-VHP)?

The ESAR-VHP program establishes a national interoperable network of state-based volunteer registration systems. The ESAR-VHP manages volunteers at all response levels. Each system, such as ServNY, verifies the identity, credentials, certifications, licenses, and hospital privileges of health professionals who volunteer.

Where do I go to find my professional license number?

For professionals currently licensed in New York, go to the New York State Education Department, Office of the Professions

Who will have access my personal data?

Besides you, only your local volunteer coordinators and the New York State volunteer coordinator will have access. Your information will be safe within a central, secure database. Your information will be used only to get you involved in activities related to your local volunteer program. Besides requests to serve, you will be invited to training and exercises and receive program information.

I have already started registering with ServNY? How do I complete the registration process?

If you have started but have not completed registering, log in with the username and password you used when you started the registration process. Your account will start the registration process where you left off.

However, if you ended the registration process before you saved your information to create an account, you will have to register from the beginning.

How will I update or change my information?

Your username and password will grant you access and allow you to edit your personal profile. You can update the self-schedule feature to respond to the requests for volunteering.

How often should I update my information?

Any time you have a change in status. In addition, please check and update your profile. Licensure information must be kept up to date to maximize your volunteer participation.

Can I hold off on advanced registration and decide when a crisis occurs?

It's best not to do that. Advanced registration is encouraged so New York State and local volunteer programs can produce an immediate list of credentialed volunteers. The registry's primary function is to quickly identify and contact volunteer professionals who have the skills and training needed for specific emergencies. The volunteer registry will serve also as a resource and track emergency training opportunities offered to volunteers.

What is the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC)?

Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is a national initiative to pre-register, manage, and mobilize volunteers to help their communities respond to all types of disasters. MRC units help develop and enhance disaster preparedness on a local level. They help local health professionals and others with relevant health skills become partners. The MRCs are designed to meet the needs of the community. MRCs will help or can be the primary source for an emergency medical response system in the community. To learn more or locate an MRC in your area, go to

Should I join a local Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) or other volunteer group in addition to registering with ServNY?

You are able to do both.

Most emergencies are small scale and happen locally. That's why local volunteer bases and organizations are important. Those organizations will also be able to access state, regional, and national volunteer registries to supplement their local forces during a larger event. To volunteer with the local MRC, you will need to sign up with them. You can also register through ServNY. Registering to serve your local community either through MRC or ServNY will provide opportunities to attend trainings, exercises, and perform non-emergency volunteer roles as requested.

Do volunteers only help during emergency situations?

No, you may be asked to volunteer for a non-emergency event especially if you join a local MRC. These events are often trainings with other agencies. They request individuals for other purposes and community or civic opportunities to assist with interaction in the public setting.

How will my credentials be verified?

ServNY and the NYS Board of Education (or another appropriate licensing board) will verify volunteers' credentials. This process is called credential verification and includes obtaining, verifying, and assessing qualifications of a potential volunteer.

Credential verification allows the system to identify volunteers who have the qualifications needed for the emergency at hand.

Only volunteer healthcare professionals with verified credentials will be allowed to provide patient care, treatment, and services for a health care organization or community during an emergency.

How will I know if I am needed during a disaster or other emergency?

During an event, requests for volunteers will be sent through the ServNY VMS using the contact information you provided When you are contacted by the volunteer coordinator, you will receive further instructions on your assignment, if you wish to accept it. To receive requests in a timely matter, please ensure your information is up to date.

What if I have obligations that do not allow me to volunteer when I receive a request?

Your service is voluntary. The decision to volunteer when you are called is up to you.

I'm a member of many local community organizations. What if one or more contact me to serve with them during the emergency?

If you are a member of other organizations or volunteer groups, you can designate your preferences for deployment in your profile on ServNY. You may want to discuss any volunteer overlap with these other organizations before making any preferences to ServNY.

How is deployment handled with my current employer?

You must make necessary arrangements with your employer to take the time to volunteer. The conditions under which an employee will be allowed to volunteer is between the employer and the employee.

How can I ensure that my training, skills, and expertise will be used appropriately?

When you register, you can enter information about your training, skills, certifications, and additional experiences. At the time of deployment, the volunteer coordinator will match skills with the requested needs. You can help ensure a proper match by keeping your training, skills, and certifications up to date in the ServNY system.

What types of tasks will I be assigned?

The emergency determines needs and tasks. The volunteer's qualifications and experiences listed in their profile will be used to assign tasks. The volunteer coordinator will try to match the volunteer's skills, and license or certification with the assignment. You can expect that you will be assigned tasks consistent with your level of licensure. Depending on the availability of volunteers, health care professionals may be also assigned tasks outside usual professional activities, such as non-medical and general tasks.

What will be my length of deployment in an emergency?

There is no required length of service. Information about the deployment will be send out with the request. At that time you can determine how much time you can volunteer.

Deployments may last from one to 15 days. However, circumstances could require shorter or longer deployments.

These questions can help you decide on taking a request and how much time you can volunteer:

  • What type of incident are you willing to respond to?
  • What distance are you willing to travel?
  • How long can I realistically be gone?
  • What conditions may restrict your length of deployment? (Children, pets, medications, employment, etc.)

Can I specify that I want to volunteer in my own community or outside it?

Yes. When you register, you can indicate that you are willing to serve in your local area, and/or in the event of a larger emergency, in other communities in New York State.

Will I be asked to volunteer outside my community?

Yes. When you register, you can choose to be notified for state and national emergencies. When possible, volunteers will be scheduled close to their communities. You may be contacted when assistance is needed in other locations during statewide emergencies or other requests. You may be asked also to help during federal emergencies in other states. Deployments will vary depending on the event. Volunteers may decline to participate in any event.

How can I learn more about the conditions and risks I could encounter once I'm deployed to an emergency?

Volunteers will receive deployment information and any risks associated with the emergency it. Volunteers will not be asked to attempt or perform any work for which they are not trained or prepared for. Prior to accepting a volunteer assignment, ask yourself what types of incidents you are willing to undertake.

Volunteers will be needed for scenarios such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, large fires, chemical, biological or radiological events, as well as large vaccination events. Some emergency situations pose inherent danger risks, and responses that can be mentally and physically tiring. Conditions in the area could be very primitive, and you could be working with severely limited resources and little or no personal or individual comforts.

I'm registered and waiting for a request. How do I pack and prepare for deployment?

Your deployment information will include what items to bring. You will need to pack personal products and items, such as medications and eyeglasses. At home, it's recommended to have a "go-bag" ready with your essentials if deployment looks possible.

You can also prepare by participating in training opportunities. They are a great way to prepare for deployment and experience scenarios that you may likely encounter.

How will I get to the deployment area or base camp?

Volunteers will receive information with their deployment. Please do not deploy to the base camp (meeting place) on your own and without specific instructions from the volunteer coordinators.

Will I need to be vaccinated or take other precautions?

All volunteers are highly recommended to have up-to-date vaccinations. In the event of certain emergencies, such as a pandemic flu or bioterrorism, you may receive the countermeasure (such as a vaccine or medicine) if you choose or if it is needed.

If I volunteer, will there be help to take care of my family if they face an emergency?

No. You are strongly encouraged to talk with your family and develop an emergency plan. Talk about how emergencies will be handled without you and how the family will stay in touch. Update the plan as necessary.