COVID-19 Safety Measures

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Your Safety Is Our Priority

Our top priority is the health, safety and well-being of people living in the communities we serve, as well as volunteers, staff and partners. Although we have implemented new operational standards, including measures to prevent infection, these measures cannot guarantee that you will avoid becoming infected with COVID-19. Attending an All Hands and Hearts program may increase your risk of contracting COVID-19.

If you are planning to volunteer, please review the following information on the threat of being exposed to COVID-19.

All Hands and Hearts is implementing safety control measures to address the following COVID-19 risks:

How We’re Keeping You Safe

Preventative Measures

Below are the safety measures we have implemented across our programs; further safety measures are being developed.

DM12 Initiative

Based on 15 years of disaster relief experience, the DM12 volunteer initiative enables us to safely restart global operations. The group structure—with participants arriving at and departing from the program on the same schedule—reduces potential exposure to COVID-19. This initiative will replace our regular volunteer application and acceptance process until we are safely and effectively able to mobilize and engage volunteers on an individual basis.

Health Screening

All volunteers and staff will undergo health screening and regular monitoring to help identify any individual who may be infected with COVID-19 or show any symptoms associated with the disease.

We require all volunteers to arrive at our base with a recent molecular-biological COVID-19 test (i.e., a polymerase chain reaction or PCR test) or an antigen test that indicates that they have tested negative. You can read more about different types of testing here.

Before you arrive
The purpose of our health-screening control measures is to reduce the chances that any person with the symptoms of COVID-19 will enter the base. But it is very possible that persons who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic or who have only mild symptoms will be able to enter the base undetected. Various physical distancing measures are required to reduce the severity of this threat.

  • Perform self-checks for 14 days prior to your arrival, checking for the presence of any of the symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Complete a COVID-19 test within seven days of arrival.

On arrival

  • Report the state of your health before entering base.
  • We will check your temperature at the entrance to base.
  • We will make sure that your recent COVID-19 test had a negative result.

Throughout your time volunteering
We will closely monitor developments in new testing methodologies and provide our team the most reliable testing available to us at each program. We may face situations in which testing is not readily available to test people who lack symptoms of COVID-19. We will:

  • Perform regular temperature checks.
  • Test volunteers and staff for COVID-19 (if testing is available, and subject to permission).
  • Require daily self-declarations of current health status.

Responsible Physical Distancing

Our base of operations and work sites are designed to allow for responsible physical distancing.

Normal Situation

  • Small groups.
  • Maintain a responsible distance from others who are not in your group.
  • Communal spaces are available (with room for physical distancing).
  • Community integration is kept to a minimum.

Increased Risk (of a localized outbreak)

  • Less interaction between groups.
  • Communal spaces are closed.
  • Community is given updated information and we interact with members of the community only if necessary.

Localized Outbreak

  • Operations are suspended and our base becomes quarantined.

Increased Hygiene and Sanitation Measures

Our base of operations and vehicles will be thoroughly and regularly cleaned and disinfected by trained cleaners. Increased hygiene and sanitation efforts include:

Personal Hygiene
Simple personal hygiene, including frequent handwashing, and not touching your eyes, nose or mouth, is essential to minimizing the spread of coronavirus and other viruses. All team members will be strongly encouraged to engage in frequent handwashing and hand sanitizer will be prominently placed and easily accessible at base and on work sites.

Sanitation Measures

  • Regular disinfection of shared areas and high touch points by trained cleaners.
  • Promotion of good ventilation on base and worksites.
  • Safe food hygiene, laundry and disposal practices.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

We ask that every staff member and volunteer wear a face covering when in public. We will provide disposable masks and make other personal protective equipment, such as goggles and gloves, freely available. If there is an increased risk of exposure to the virus (i.e., if there is a local outbreak), we will provide greater levels of respiratory protection (e.g., three-ply masks and N95 masks) and other PPE, in accordance with a specific risk assessment.

AHAH Contact Tracing

We are implementing wearable-technology solutions to help track close contacts within our bases of operation. Contact tracing and quarantining of people with COVID-19 and close contacts are critical to help slow transmission of COVID-19 (consult the CDC website for more information).

Response to Exposure and Infection

We must accept the possibility of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus and being infected by it. To guide our response to the situation, we have a location-specific contingency plan for promoting the safety of all involved. In our approach to isolating potentially infected team members and quarantining their close contacts, we will follow the guidance provided by the CDC.

We will provide supported isolation to a potential patient. This means that we will provide food, accommodation, communication devices and access to mental health services for the duration of any required isolation. We will ask the individual to complete a COVID-19 test as soon as it is safe to do so.

Using the tools from our contract tracing control measures, we will establish a list of those who have had close contact with the potential carrier within the previous 14 days. We will contact each of these people, notify them of the potential exposure, and advise them to act in accordance with their local regulations, which will likely require a 14-day quarantine period. If the secondary contacts remain in our program, we will offer a supported quarantine.

Program Specific Guides

How do I apply to volunteer?
In response to COVID-19, we have set up DM12, a new initiative to meet our commitments to communities suffering from disasters. Based on 15 years of disaster relief experience, the DM12 volunteer initiative enables us to safely restart volunteer operations in 2020. The group structure—with participants arriving at and departing from the program on the same schedule and working on the same schedule—reduces potential exposure to COVID-19.  This initiative will replace our regular volunteer application and acceptance process until we are safely and effectively able to mobilize and engage volunteers on an individual basis. Learn more about DM12 here.

Where can I learn more about the coronavirus disease to better prepare myself?
For more information about COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease and Controls (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) websites.

How are you deciding when to restart operations in a specific location?
The indicators we use to determine whether and when we can restart operations take into account advice from agencies like the CDC and WHO. We also consider travel restrictions, local government rules and regulations, as well as community willingness and advice from other NGOs that are confronting the same challenges.

How will you keep the communities you serve safe?
We will adhere to local external regulations and adapt our safety measures to the evolving situation in the specific location we are working.

We are taking preventative measures to keep our team members, including volunteers, symptom-free, and to quickly identify symptoms if they do develop. We will minimize interaction with the community, and we will monitor and track close contacts if and when we must interact with the community.

When we hire members of the community, we will carefully explain the risks to them, provide them with all necessary personal protective equipment, and provide them with training about the safety measures appropriate to their role.

What measures are you taking to prevent COVID-19 when you welcome volunteers from all over the world?
Please refer to the section HOW WE’RE KEEPING YOU SAFE above, and email us at [email protected] if you have additional questions.

Are there any restrictions on who can volunteer?
At this time, our regular volunteer application is closed, and restrictions on who can apply to join DM12 may apply. We cannot currently accept volunteers for DM12 who have a higher risk of severe illness. We also have specific age restrictions in place per program determined by the local context. These are clearly stated at the top of each application.

What if my country imposes travel restrictions? How can I get to the program? 
All Hands and Hearts is unable to account for or make any special accommodation in response to the travel restrictions of individual countries. Prospective volunteers should review the local regulations that apply to them and comply with the advice.

Will there be stricter limits on how many volunteers are allowed on site at a program base?
Yes. As part of our physical distancing preventative measures, we have looked at each of our locations and re-planned the space to be appropriate for COVID-19. This means fewer spaces are available at each base.

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