Door County Emergency Support Coalition: Help for the Homebound
Volunteers step up amid the pandemic
The Door County Emergency Support Coalition takes charge
When the COVID-19 pandemic left many people isolated at home, the Door County Fire Chiefs Association joined forces with local organizations to make sure that residents and guests were able to receive the information and non-emergency services they needed. The goal was to serve as a clearinghouse to answer questions, handle requests for help and connect people with sources of assistance. Nearly 30% of Door County, Wisconsin, residents are over age 65, a group considered among the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus.
Mobilizing volunteers, reaching out
The fire chiefs established the Door County Emergency Support Coalition to coordinate the response to pandemic-related needs. Other organizations joined the coalition, including the Door County Public Health Department, Door County Community Foundation, the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Door County, and the nonprofit Washington Island Community Health Program. Volunteers were rounded up to deliver groceries and medications, to pick up mail and carry trash to the dump, and to handle phone calls to identify and assist those in need of help. Background checks of the volunteers were conducted and ID badges were provided to them. The service was publicized online; in posters at grocery stores, banks and community centers; and in flyers sent to residents’ homes. A designated hotline, the Mental and Emotional Support Helpline, was set up to help those suffering from anxiety, grief, fear and isolation.
Lockdown ends, support continues
During the three-month lockdown in spring 2020, more than 600 people stepped up to volunteer to help people throughout Door County who were restricted to their homes. Those services continued into 2021. The fire chiefs association made it clear that the Door County Emergency Support Coalition would still be available to provide non-emergency assistance to anyone in the community—regardless of age or income—to deliver provisions, answer questions and offer emotional support.