Volunteer Spotlight-Siobhan Champ-Blackwell

Statistics may be boring for many of us. But they’re critical to understanding and improving the effectiveness of any system. Siobhan derives useful insights from Humanity Road’s disaster response statistics.


Thanks for taking the time to do this interview.

Glad to do it. Thanks for your time!

First, tell us about yourself, and what you do day-to-day at HR.

I’m a medical librarian at the National Library of Medicine. I work in the Disaster Information Management Research Center. We work to organize the health information needed by first responders and [healthcare professionals who treat victims] before, during and after disasters.

I log into Skype for Humanity Road a couple of times a week, and gather the numbers from the Urgent Event windows. In other words, I count the hours [our Skype Disaster Desk] is activated for a response, the number of people who responded, and how many responses there have been. Christoph [Dennenmoser] set up an Excel sheet to enter the data in.

I don’t activate during disasters, as I am busy at work myself!

The data is used by Cat and Chris in their reports for HR, to demonstrate how important and active the volunteers are.

Not a glamorous job. But I take it the numbers you gather are useful to HR?

Yes. You may have seen a post from Cat in the Cafe I think that there has been over 3000 volunteer hours on 118 events this year. That is pretty amazing, and it’s important for potential funders to see that HR is really active, and has a strong volunteer force that stays active all year long

Not glamorous, but it gives me the chance to work at my own pace and at my own hours. And at home- something very important for me! I can volunteer from the comfort of my couch.

It’s also important for the emergency response community to know they can rely on HR. Humanity Road has been asked by international agencies to write situation reports for specific events, because of the amazing work of [our] volunteers.

Someone once told me if you don’t report it, it didn’t happen