On Labor Day weekend 2020, I was given access to the volunteer first responder teams working at Croce Bianca Centro in Milan by the organization and the local government in Lombardy. 


As the COVID-19 crisis begins to subside, the role of unpaid volunteer first responders in Italy is being reconsidered. Some think these 'soccorritori' volunteers should be professionalized and regulated by the national gov’t while others think the local volunteer aspect encourages only the highly committed to chose to serve.

The volunteers themselves are not in agreement on what, if anything, needs to change. Most work full-time jobs and many have families. Surprisingly, few of them quit when the COVID-19 crisis began. 

Going forward the Italian government may try to streamline what is currently a Byzantine regional network of volunteer organizations.  A move that may lead to resistance from non-profit organizations like Croce Bianca and from the volunteers themselves, who derive pride and prestige from the fact they do this to be of service, not to be paid. 

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