Disaster response teams

Our teams are made up of highly committed, multi-skilled volunteers. Read more about their responsibilities, training and how you could join them.

When disaster strikes in New Zealand we're ready to go. We provide assistance and support where required, to help communities around the country. We work closely with the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management as well as other government agencies and emergency management groups.

Activities we're involved in include:

  • Extra volunteers to provide 'surge' support during disasters
  • Disaster welfare and support teams all around New Zealand
  • Disaster welfare support trucks. These can unpack to become a welfare support reception, providing shelter and food for up to 150 people.

Our volunteers have a wide variety of professional backgrounds, delivering essential services during and immediately after a disaster.

Team members train and respond in their local area but may travel throughout New Zealand to support other Red Cross teams during emergencies.

Time commitment

Our volunteers are available for 24-hour, seven-day call out, for periods of up to five days (excluding travel days) when responding to emergency events. Many of our volunteers have full-time or part-time jobs that support their volunteer work and remain flexible when emergencies occur.


Response tasks may include:

  • Reconnaissance
  • Ground-level rescue
  • Casualty handling
  • First aid
  • Community assessments
  • Welfare support
  • Other specialist skills as required.


Regular training opportunities are provided at no cost and are delivered to industry best practice.

Training topics include:

  • First aid
  • Health and safety
  • Ground-level rescue
  • Emergency welfare
  • Personal preparedness
  • Stress management
  • Communicating with distressed people during emergencies
  • Radio communications
  • Incident reporting
  • Casualty handling
  • Triage
  • Medical ethics
  • Flood awareness.

We regularly take part in scenario-based exercises with other Red Cross response teams and partner agencies including Civil Defence, New Zealand Defence Force, Police, and Urban Search and Rescue (USAR).


We use modern equipment, 4WDs, trucks and medical supplies and have pre-positioned disaster relief stocks throughout the country.

All of our team members are provided with a uniform and protective equipment.

Induction process

We recruit volunteers for our response teams as required, depending on volunteer team levels.

Following your initial enquiry, you will be asked to attend an information evening, where the roles and responsibilities of the team will be explained.

At this meeting, should you decide that becoming a response volunteer is right for you, you will receive an information pack with all of the information and forms you need in order to become a volunteer.

All applicants must produce copies of the following:

  • Photo ID (driver's licence/passport)
  • Evidence of current first aid certificate (if applicable)
  • Any other applicable educational certificates.

From this information applicants are assessed and short-listed, subject to a Police check.


Our volunteers must:

  • Be available for 24 hour, seven day call out, for periods up to five days with potential travel days added either side, when responding to emergency events
  • Have health and fitness levels suitable to the role of the team
  • Undertake a Police check
  • Make an ongoing commitment of at least one year
  • Pursue and take advantage of training and other development opportunities
  • Demonstrate a commitment to meet the needs of those requiring assistance
  • Commit to the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement
  • Have the ability to work with a diverse range of people
  • Be able to maintain good spirits, even in adverse working conditions.

Sound like something you want to be part of? Join us! We look forward to hearing from you.

International response

Our international delegates provide humanitarian assistance and development by saving lives, alleviating suffering, and maintaining human dignity.

For more information on the International Delegate Programme go here.