Episode: Pajama Volunteers: The Digital Front of Disaster Response

Note to Self Logo
Pajama Volunteers: The Digital Front of Disaster Response

Cries for help are hidden by the chatter of chaos. Vital updates are lost in the noise. In the crucial days after a natural disaster, information is not organized. But if it were, lives would be saved. 

Springing to the cause is a new cadre of volunteers who take it upon themselves to offer help from afar, often without ever leaving their living rooms, or in the case of Leesa Astredo, of getting out of her bathrobe. "Sometimes I'll get on the computer at the beginning of the earthquake and spend 20, 30 hours at a time working that one disaster." Astredo organizes a team of virtual first responders called Info4Disasters

Digital disaster responders are a growing force in emergency responses. These are self-organized, self-appointed and self-directed virtual volunteers and established aid organizations are still trying to figure out what to do with them. Many of them are like Astredo, a little older — she's 55 — and former on-the-ground volunteers or NGO workers who want to stay in the game. And then there are a newer breed: younger techie types — data scientists or mapping aficionados — who realize they have skills they can contribute in search and rescue operations or logistics missions. 

"I think that we’re stepping into a new, unchartered territory when you talk about taking care of the digital disaster volunteer," says Lisa Orloff the founder of the World Cares Center that offers support, including counseling to disaster volunteers. 

In this episode of New Tech City, get to know Leesa Astredo as she shows how a digital disaster volunteer works, and she explains how too much vicarious trauma can lead to it's own problems.

Plus, what the Red Cross thinks of all this and how they are adapting to these outpourings of digital aid workers.

If you like this episode, why not send a link to a friend who likes volunteering. And if you haven't already done it, go ahead and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, or on StitcherTuneInI Heart Radio, or anywhere else using our RSS feed.

UPDATE: Manoush appeared on WBEZ's Afternoon Shift program talking about this episode. Give a listen here. 


Note to Self
Users who viewed this episode also viewed...

Our Fake History > Episode #3- Was There A Real Labyrinth?

Is the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur just a bedtime story for morbid children or does it contain the kernels of real history? This week we dive into this classic myth and discover how it might hold clues about a real conflict between ancient bronze-age civilizations. Tune in to discover how bull jumpers, volcanic eruptions, boys with double-daddys, and the real life Indiana Jones all play a role in the story! 

Note to Self > Video Games Meet Middle Age Emotions

The first crop of video gamers are facing middle age with no plans to put down the controller. So the games have to grow up too. Expect less blood splatter, more reflection. (This is part 1 of 2 about new kinds of video gamers. Listen to part 2 here.) Enter the Elder Gamers At 61 years old, Dena Watson-Lamprey is a fierce Street Fighter competitor...

Note to Self > What to Do When Robots Replace People You Work With

What are you willing to automate in your life? How much robot will you accept?  This week, Manoush goes on a journey to find out what she's willing to automate in her life, what the right ratio of robot to human is. This, it turns out, is a personal choice.  Maybe you'll book travel online instead of through a travel agent, but you still use a human accountant...
Comments (0)

Login or Sign up to leave a comment.

Log in
Sign up

Be the first to comment.