chapter  1
12 Pages

The History of Spontaneous Volunteerism in Disaster Response

The fact that citizens come out spontaneously to help in the aftermath of disaster is not something new. Throughout history, there is documentation of neighbor helping neighbor. Such examples can be seen as early as 1859, when Henry Dunant organized civilian care for the wounded after a battle in the northern Italian town of Solferino that left tens of thousands of wounded soldiers without medical attention. Dunant, with the memory of the horror of what he had seen, worked to establish a society for the aid of those wounded in battle that would be neutral in their provision of care. That establishment is known today as the International Committee of the Red Cross.