Functional and Access Needs Support (FANS) Team Volunteer Program

FANS Team brochure

Program Purpose

Functional and Access Needs Support (FANS) teams are volunteer teams trained to assist in meeting the needs of shelter clients with access and functional needs during evacuation and sheltering operations.

FANS teams volunteers are already trained in providing personal care services and will provide these direct care services in shelters by:

  • Assisting with functional needs assessments
  • Providing non-medical personal assistance services to shelter residents (ie., activities of daily living)
  • Identifying service and equipment needs of shelter residents

FANS teams are also able to assist a locality with the evacuation of medically fragile residents and residents with functional disabilities. This may include providing assistance with service animals and pets, loading required durable medical equipment on to paratransit vehicles, and assisting individuals in boarding paratransit vehicles.


Originally established as a stand-alone program for the Anchorage Office of Emergency Management in Anchorage, Alaska by Dawn Brantley, as Emergency Programs Manager, this program was developed in consultation with the American Red Cross of Alaska and Access Alaska Center for Independent Living. The overnight shelter training exercise developed for this volunteer program training, which included volunteers with disabilities, was the first of its kind in the country and has since been replicated in other states.

In Virginia, Dawn Brantley, is working with local Medical Reserve Corps programs and other volunteer programs to establish a statewide, deployable force of personal care aides who could assist wherever they are needed. The same can be done in your state or locality.


Recruitment should target individuals who have training and experience in providing personal assistance services and who are not essential personnel or critical staff at their place of employment. This can include personal care aides, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and others. All volunteers should be able to physically execute the duties required to provide personal assistance services. Volunteers are usually required complete the FANS Team training, pass the American Red Cross (or similar as determined by the locality) background check, and sign the volunteer liability waiver to participate in the FANS Team program.


Training is provided by IEMC. Training dates and locations will be coordinated by the organization requesting the training. All materials will be provided electronically and in print.

Training topics include:

  • How to provide personal assistance services within a shelter
  • Functional needs assessments
  • Shelter operations related to access and functional needs, requesting supplies and equipment
  • Evacuation assistance
  • Injuries and other issues
  • Documentation

Please note that personal assistance services training is NOT provided. Your organization or IEMC can contract with a training company to provide this training prior to FANS Team volunteer training.

It is recommended that training culminate in an overnight shelter exercise that includes both general population clients and clients with access and functional needs. It is also recommended that a refresher course be conducted annually for all FANS volunteers.

Typical Costs

Average: $12,660*

– 40 hrs of work to plan training and assist with establishing program
– 2 travel days for training
– In person training for up to 30 people
– Volunteer manuals for trainees and local program managers
– Digital copies of manual, forms
– Customizable recruiting materials
– Assistance marketing the program and recruiting volunteers
– Continued support after program launch

*Program costs will vary depending upon size of class, travel costs, inclusion of an exercise, planning and coordination meetings in advance of training, and other factors.

Get Started

To request more information or to get a program started in your area, email or call (804) 372-0294.