Frequently Asked Questions – Disaster Service Workers

The best time to prepare for an emergency is before it happens. The following are frequently asked questions from disaster service workers that can help you prepare. Print out the checklists and information sheets below and keep copies in an easy-to-reach location for immediate reference.

1) There’s been an emergency. What do I do?
If you are at work: Report immediately to your department supervisor or at your department designated staging area.

If you are at home or otherwise away from work:

  • Remember to secure your family first
  • Listen to the radio to receive possible citywide reporting instructions:
    • KFI (640 AM)
    • KNWZ (970 AM)
    • KNX (1070 AM)
    • KNWH (1240 AM)
  • Contact your immediate supervisor in your chain of command to receive reporting instructions.
  • Follow the procedures for reporting to your normal work location.
  • Be sure to have your County Employee Card with you. It may be required to rapidly access emergency transportation routes.

2) What is my responsibility as a Disaster Service Worker (DSW)?

  • When the city or county is officially declared an emergency, you first need to take care of your family and ensure that their safe.
  • Follow your department’s reporting instructions.
  • Be prepared to be assigned to any type of disaster service activity.
  • Understand assignments may require your DSW service to be at locations, times and conditions, other than your normal work assignment

3) What kind of duties might I be asked to perform as a disaster service worker?
In most cases, your department supervisor or the Department of Human Resources will provide you with a DSW general assignment based on the needs of City and/or County departments during the declared citywide emergency. Examples of general job category duties you may be asked to perform include: clerical support; damage assessment; drivers; food preparation; interpreters; security; sorters/packers/loaders.

4) What kind of training do I need to take to become a DSW?
All public employees will need to complete the training listed on the training page of the DSW website. The first component, which consists of a presentation, a video provides a general overview of what it means to be a disaster service worker and what you need to do to prepare for an emergency. The second training component — the SEMS/NIMS training — provides disaster service workers with more technical expertise on incident response in an emergency.

5) How will my supervisors know that I have completed the necessary training?
All Disaster Service Workers will receive a certificate of completion once they have successfully completed the on-line training curricula. Certificates of completion should be submitted to the Emergency Preparedness unit to ensure proper documentation is complete.

6) I see that I have to take a quiz in order to get my certificate. What if I fail the test?
In order to obtain the certificate, the participant will be instructed to take a quiz. If you fail, you will be allowed to retake the quiz/test/ as many times as necessary to get your certificate.

7) How do I get involved with the Disaster Service Worker program?
If you are an employee of the Riverside County Office of Education, you are already designated as a disaster service worker. As a disaster service worker you are required to complete the training and present the certificates of completion to the Emergency Preparedness unit. If you would like to get more involved, talk to your supervisor about operational functional response training with courses in basic first aid, CPR, stress management and shelter management. Also be sure to notify your supervisor if you have any special skills that might be useful in an emergency. Examples of special skills include other languages spoken, licenses and certifications, CPR or first aid training, possession of a commercial driver or other licenses.

8) How can I make a suggestion to the Disaster Service Worker program?
We encourage you to contact us with your suggestion.

9) How can I ensure that I am prepared for an emergency?
The best way for you to be prepared for an emergency is to take the DSW training, then download and follow the emergency preparedness checklist (PDF).

10) Will I continue to get paid if there has been an emergency?
Employees who receive paper paychecks may experience significant delays in receiving paychecks and payroll information following a disaster. To ensure that you continue to be paid and receive payroll information in a timely fashion following a disaster, we encourage all RCOE employees to enroll in direct deposit.


The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the Department of Education.  However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.