Helping an Injured Volunteer

August 19, 2015

Like employees, animal shelter volunteers are valuable team members, and it’s important to keep them safe. However, even with strict safety protocols and comprehensive volunteer training programs in place, volunteers can become injured. If a volunteer is hurt at your animal shelter, follow these simple yet important steps.

Animal welfare employees should:

1. Remain calm.

Take a deep breath. Show the injured volunteer and nearby staff members that you have control of the situation.

2. Call for help.

Notify a supervisor or manager on duty.

3. Identify and remove any hazards between yourself and the injured volunteer.

This may include securing loose animals and checking the floor for slippery areas. Know that if you hurt yourself while trying to help the volunteer, two injured people will need assistance instead of one.

4. Perform first aid, and seek medical attention if needed.

If the injuries are serious, call the volunteer’s emergency contact once help arrives and someone with more first aid experience takes over.

5. If animals were involved in the incident, examine and document their behavior and injuries.

Contact a veterinarian if necessary.

6. Interview any witnesses, and gather their contact information.

7. Document the incident in an accident report.

8. Submit a claim to your animal welfare organization insurance provider as soon as possible.

9. Assess the incident.

Ask yourself and fellow employees:

  • How could this injury have been avoided?
  • What have we learned from this incident?
  • Do we have sufficient volunteer training protocol in place?

10. Make changes to avoid a similar occurrence.

Learn how to implement an accident investigation plan.

11. Follow up with the volunteer to ensure he or she is healing well.

If you’ve identified any improvements to make your workplace safer, share these improvements with the volunteer.

After experiencing an injury, animal shelter volunteers should:

1. Call for help.

2. Receive first aid and/or medical attention if necessary.

3. Document the incident as soon as possible.

4. Assess your situation.

If you need time to heal physically and mentally, take a break from volunteering. Ask yourself, am I ready to volunteer tomorrow? Next week? In a month? Be honest.

5. Follow up with the animal shelter.

Tell a manager how you’re healing and ask any questions you have about how the incident was handled.

Unfortunately, accidents happen. Keep your team safe and supported by implementing, practicing and improving your injury prevention and response protocols.

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