People always want to help out in an emergency. If a tornado goes through our county, hundreds of people will pour in to help clean up. What many people may not know, is that not only are those people helping us directly, but they also can save the townships and county thousands of dollars in recouping disaster money from the federal government. But in order for that to happen, those volunteers have to be registered and their hours tracked.

On Tuesday, April 24th, the Washburn County Emergency Management and the Health Department held a Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) drill to assure that registering and tracking of those volunteers in an emergency will be accomplished.

Washburn County has a VRC Management team, composed of volunteers from Faith Lutheran Church, Shell Lake Lions’ Club, Spooner/Trego Lions’ Club, and the Minong Town Board. The team assisted in last year’s tornado at Barron County, and incorporated the lessons learned from that experience into making a more streamlined process. Members of the Community, as well as Emergency Management and Public Health Departments from other counties, assisted by going through the VRC as “spontaneous Volunteers” to be registered and assigned. The Salvation Army provided snacks.

The VRC also practiced at a new site. United Methodist Church of Shell Lake graciously opened its doors to the VRC team, and the church proved to have everything needed for the smooth running of a VRC. “We are always looking for additional sites in other areas of the county, in case Shell Lake is affected by a disaster and the church is unavailable”, said Carol Buck, Washburn County Emergency Management Director.

If you are interested in becoming part of the VRC Team, or belong to a faith or community group and think your facility would be willing to serve as a VRC site, please contact Cheri Nickell at, or call the Health Department at 715-635-4400 and ask for Cheri Nickell.

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