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Volunteers often provide valuable assistance to the people and organizations they serve, with some roles offering a genuine opportunity to save and improve lives. While these roles may sometimes require training and occasionally a period of collaboration with more experienced volunteers to navigate serious situations, they can be incredibly rewarding.

Provide Support During Emergencies 

In some of life's most distressing moments, it is often volunteers who step in to make a significant difference. Research shows that approximately 13% of the nation's emergency medical service professionals are volunteers. These individuals complete certification to become Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), equipping themselves to respond to medical emergencies and provide basic life support. The requirements for EMT certification vary by state. To facilitate this process, the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians provides a map to help locate the agency responsible for overseeing certification in your state.

Another way to assist people in critical situations is by becoming a disaster preparedness and response volunteer. This role involves helping individuals prepare for potential disasters and responding when natural or other disasters occur. 

Improve Community Health

Community health volunteers play an important role in bridging the gap between healthcare facilities and the communities they serve. Trained to educate the public about various health risks and the services available, these volunteers build trust and enhance awareness of the importance of activities ranging from regular check-ups to blood donation. Local hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities often seek community health volunteers to support their outreach efforts.

Other places to look for these types of volunteer opportunities include substance abuse and violence prevention agencies. Public health departments also rely on volunteers to help with community health assessments, disease surveillance, and health promotion initiatives. Mobile health clinics or outreach programs aim to deliver healthcare services and resources to people in underserved or remote areas. Additionally, blood donor ambassadors play a crucial role in encouraging blood donations and assisting at blood drives or donation centers, ensuring there is an adequate blood supply for patients in need. 

Providing Support and Crisis Intervention

Having access to a crisis line or other support mechanisms is crucial for individuals facing mental health, substance abuse, or other crises. Volunteers at suicide hotlines are trained to support and provide crisis intervention to individuals contemplating suicide. Additionally, mental health organizations often seek advocates to help raise awareness, reduce stigma, and advocate for improved mental health services. If you have personal experience with such struggles, you can leverage this by becoming a support group facilitator, guiding, or assisting groups for people dealing with mental health issues, chronic conditions, grief, addiction recovery, or similar challenges.

Help Advance Healthcare

Every day, researchers search for cures, interventions, and new discoveries about a myriad of health issues. You may be able to help. If you have a condition or illness, consider asking your doctor about volunteering for clinical trials, health studies, or research projects aimed at improving understanding, prevention, and treatment of diseases and health conditions. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has published a list of questions to ask before you proceed.

For more ways to give back in healthcare or other fields, visit

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