Should you volunteer in an emergency?

Helping out when people are in trouble seems like the right thing to do. But what if you put yourself or others in danger by volunteering? This is being debated in the USA right now, as volunteers and the US Coast Guard don't necessarily agree on the best way to handle natural disasters...


After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, a group of local people who owned boats banded together to help those who had been trapped by the flooding. They became affectionately known as ‘the Cajun Navy’ after a large local community, many of whom took part in the rescue attempts. In recent hurricanes, storm events and floods in the South-Eastern USA from Louisiana to Texas, members of the Cajun Navy have stepped forward again to perform volunteer rescue work such as evacuating people from flood-threatened buildings. 

But official bodies such as the US Coast Guard have raised concerns about whether the unofficial volunteer rescue crews might put themselves and others in danger. In this report from the US National Public Radio service, Sarah McCammon discusses the question.

Listen to the report below, or read the text on the NPR website. What do you think – is volunteering to help in an emergency is always the right thing to do?