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Book Review: Disaster Volunteers

How to Become an International Disaster Volunteer. By Michael Noone. Butterworth-Heinemann;; 140 pages; $39.95.

A practical guide for those interested in humanitarian volunteer work, How to Become an International Disaster Volunteer is straightforward and easy to understand. The author recounts his experience in the field of volunteer work and the challenges he had to face in his journey of helping others. The book presents a step-by-step plan to succeed in becoming a disaster volunteer, including self-evaluation, training, to-do lists, and case studies.

What makes this book unique is that the author endeavors to include everything an individual would need to know about international volunteering in one publication. Like a textbook, the book is organized by the stages a volunteer would go through, from deciding to become a volunteer to the psychological effects that remain upon returning from the mission.

The book does not address the role of security personnel during disasters, but it advises volunteers to be extra careful when traveling to disaster locations because they are always assumed to be less secure than usual—especially when there is civil unrest. The author discusses case studies in locations where volunteers faced security challenges and how they were overcome. Generally, security-related issues were only briefly discussed and in little depth. 

The author successfully creates a practical guide for current international disaster volunteers and those who are interested in becoming volunteers. This book is an easy read and concise. Although it doesn't contribute to the security body of knowledge, security practitioners would benefit from reading this book by gaining an understanding of disaster volunteering.

Reviewer: Khalid Al-Ghamdi, CPP, PSP, is the head of security engineering and projects for Saudi Aramco. He serves on the ASIS Petrochemical, Chemical, and Extractive Industry Security Council and is vice chair of the Dhahran Chapter.