Photo courtesy of Multnomah County Communications

Disaster Response Readiness

Are you interested in being involved with disaster and incident response but wondering “What's my role?” or  “How does my skill set fit in?” or even “How do I get started?”

This page is for you! 

The information below was put together by a multidisciplinary team with experience in disaster and emergency response, to help you navigate your pathway toward becoming disaster response ready. During a disaster there is a lot to do. We all show up with unique knowledge, background, and skills - which is great! There is a perfect fit for everyone and we need you.

During and after disasters the inequities in our society are exacerbated and it requires an incredibly diverse group of responders to address the wide array of needs presented by our communities. Those already disenfranchised suffer impacts from disasters disproportionately. This requires us to bring our best selves to disaster response  

Listed below you will find the basic characteristics and requirements for positions in disaster response, and the descriptions of duties for each. If you have questions, we are here to help you determine where your interests and skills will best fit!


A little background

When an incident occurs that needs coordination and response support, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) may be activated.  The EOC is generally a physical location where incident response is coordinated by a team of individuals possessing skills relevant to the specific response.  

An EOC is always staffed by at least an EOC Manager, who then delegates other positions as needed.  

General Characteristics of EOC Staff:

  • Teamwork. Able to cultivate relationships, share information and support colleagues.

  • Flexible, Adaptable. Comfortable adapting to unusual situations, working with people from other disciplines and organizations, and doing whatever is necessary to accomplish goals.

  • Expert, Trained. Possess administrative, technical, and professional skills/knowledge.

  • Commitment. Enthusiastically participate in a response organization.

In addition, EOC leadership positions require:

Leadership, Management. Able to apply the right management tools and leadership style to the situation. Appropriately obtain and use information. Organize teams and individuals to adapt to current objectives. Anticipate and prepare for future needs in productive ways.

Commitment to Gain Expertise, Leadership. Develop into expert and leader in areas of responsibility. Lead by example and learn through formal and on-the-job training, practice, and self teaching/preparation. Know own role, that of subordinate leaders and staff, and the integration and relationship of all roles with other functional leaders.

What is your level of interest in participating in the EOC? Consider which one best matches your level of interest:

Field operations surge staff: minimal pre-event training, trained just-in-time for a specific position, generally only called for larger or extended period emergencies

DRC Team member: General DRC staff, Behavioral Health Team (Emotional and Psychological First Aid), Health and Medical First Aid Team, Referral Specialist Team, Support Services Team, Day Care Team (child care & adult care), Volunteer & Donations Management, Site Safety & Security Team, IT Team, and Facilities Management Team

Management staff: mid-level pre-event training and exercises, assisting leaders accomplish specific tasks

Unit Leaders, Division Supervisors & other prospective leaders: mid- to high-level pre-event training and exercises, leading a team of people to accomplish specific tasks

Consider which of the following best describes you:

  • Solution Builder = Operations, Logistics, Finance, Planning, Information, EOC Manager, Liaison

  • Problem Anticipator = Planning, Operations, Logistics, EOC Manager, Safety

  • Forward Thinker = Planning, Logistics

  • Doer = Operations

Keeping your answers to the above questions in mind, see below for descriptions of each of the positions.


There are eight major functional areas within the EOC.

The following are the major EOC functions. Click the links to read more about each.

Deputies, unit leaders and staff provide depth and support to various Units as the organization works together toward an effective response.  

Please take a few moments to acquaint yourself further with each role.


Next Steps...

If any of the positions spark your interest or you’d like to find out more, please fill out our online interest form and a disaster response mentor will make contact with you.

In addition, the following introductory level courses are recommended for all disaster response staff:

Read about how to volunteer at Disaster Resource Centers here.