Photo courtesy of Multnomah County Communications

Emergency and Disaster Readiness

Are you interested in being involved with emergency, 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 emergency and disaster response, to help you navigate your pathway toward becoming emergency and disaster response ready. During a emergencies and disasters 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 emergencies and 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 our response roles.   

Listed below you will find the basic characteristics and requirements for positions in disaster response, and the descriptions of responsibilities 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:

  • Equity Focused: ability to utilize the equity lens in all aspects of work. Create welcoming spaces and interrupt oppression.

  • Public Service Attitude: We are here to serve our community. Solution based, can do - attitude is required. Get to yes mindset.

  • Team Oriented: Ability to cultivate and nurture relationships with people from diverse backgrounds and work styles. Willingness to share information and support colleagues.

  • Flexible: Comfortable adapting to unusual situations, working with people from other disciplines and organizations. Willingness to pitch in wherever needed (make coffee, clean as necessary). Ability to work with minimal direction in a fast paced/deadline oriented environment. 

  • Technologically capable: Google and Word competent.

Roles at the Emergency Operations Center include work like: project scoping and implementation, strategic sourcing, delivering supplies, writing communications for internal and external partners, information management, scheduling and other administrative and planning support. Positions that are currently seeking staffing are listed below. See a description of the different sections, and a link to more information.

  • The Command Section includes Public Information, which supports communication to the community about COVID-19, including media posts and communication with our community partners. 

  • The Operations Section coordinates activities, projects, timelines and people. Those who enjoy project management will thrive in the Operations Section.

  • The Planning Section supports strategic and operational decision-making by managing information, including record-keeping, calendar management, and disseminating information. Those who are detail oriented and enjoy running efficient meetings and doing research will enjoy this section.

  • The Logistics Section supports emergency response in all ways, including finding, allocating, and distributing the resources needed to support emergency response. The Logistics Section has a bit of something for everyone. Whether you like spreadsheets or direct service provision, or analyzing requirements and creating efficiencies, this section will be a welcoming environment for you.

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 (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 Emergency Operations Center online interest form and we will contact you.

The following acknowledgment forms provide more information about what's expected from Disaster Service Workers as well as their supervisors:

Disaster Service Worker Acknowledgement Form 

Managers and Supervisors Acknowledgement Form

In addition, the following introductory level courses are recommended for all disaster service workers:

Read about how to volunteer at Disaster Resource Centers here.