I am just catching up with the DRT podcasts and responses, so kind of getting into this late.
Before I comment, let me state my own experience - not to blow my own horn but to give background to my comments.
I have been officially involved with ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) and at one point an assistant EC (Emergency Coordinator - local ARES head), a First Responder for SKYWARN (Ham radio's emergency response organization tied in with the NWS) and a trained member of SATERN (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network). In actuality, before I 'woke up' to what is really going on with the world and its troubles, I had planned to spend my retirement years as a First Responder SATERN member to the Salvation Army's EDS (Emergency Disaster Service). Ok, a lot of abbreviations but they are almost unavoidable when you deal with a lot of organizations - nature of the beast. I have been primarily trained by Amateur Radio sources and SATERN, with my primary commitment to SATERN. I have never, as yet, been deployed. Recently I have 'retired' and now could do so but because of 'waking up' to what is going on, I have been putting my time elsewhere.
In the US, we have an oppressive government with oppressive regulations, nothing new to anyone here. The government loves regulations, control, and is jealous of its power. At one time government did not care about disasters so much and independent (usually religious-based as they were the ones who really cared) organizations and groups provided most disaster response and relief. Then government decided 'it' was the main player, as in so many other endeavors, and began to limit anyone not under its own umbrella until we have gotten to the point we are in today where victims suffer because of government interference (disguised as 'help'), keeps away those who'd like to contribute (other than monitary) unless they jump through a number of hoops.
FEMA is, of course, the government monster charged with DR nowadays. Not saying it doesn't do any good, but anyone with common sense knows that the government cannot run anything efficiently and when it comes to the lives and welfare of disaster victims, it becomes pretty sad at times..
The Red Cross is government sponsored and again, though some or even much good is accomplished, the RC remains a very political animal. The biggest competitor to the RC is the SA (Salvation Army), a religious-based group privately funded and EXTREMELY efficient, both in terms of money expended and services rendered.
What has kept the SA popular with other emergency organizations is their famed 'Sally wagons', which are mobile food kitchen vehicles - usually dispatched to provide food, coffee, and 'downtime' to emergency response agencies such as firemen fighting a major fire, the Grand Fork floods of a few years back, or horrific disasters like 911. The Red Cross gets a lot more press, and it would not be unusual to see a news reporter crew filming a report for TV and all of a sudden you might see a RC vehicle appear pulling into the background of the video shot. The RC, politically motivated and controlled, does this sort of tackiness as a matter of course. You will never see a SA vehicle doing such grandstanding. The SA/EDS goes in and does its job, not seeking glory but only to serve and help.
The official emergency agencies have been communicating better in recent years, before a disaster starts. Each agency has its strengths. The RC - shelters and warehouses. The SA - serving hot food and drinks. The Southern Baptists - providing food supplies and frequently working with the the SA and others.
So my comments are from a SATERN p-o-v, though I am not part of their CORE (church). My interest has been primarily though my Ham Radio interests funneled through helping the Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Service through SATERN.
The SA has found the following to be of value:
1. Fast Response often determines whether or not the SA is 'allowed' into a restricted area. Example - a Pittsburgh area plane crash several years ago was roped off and no agency without a lot of political pull was allowed into the area. Since the SA deployed and was there EVEN BEFORE THE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES, it was allowed to continue (and it certainly helps that the SA is well-respected for the care it gives emergency workers through its mobile kitchens. Cops and Federal agents get tired and hungry too).
2. Most governmental agencies, whether federal or local, respect uniforms. Uniforms seem to convey to them authority and 'part of the official team' responses (SA/EDS uses uniforms. I have one myself).
3. The SA/EDS has found that carrying some sort of official ID making equipment is helpful, as often at the scene of a disaster the FEDS issue their own ID and if an on-the-scene agency can come up with on-the-scene ID, it is accepted. I'm not suggesting counterfeiting the FED ID, but rather suggesting that if there is an agreed upon on-scene ID, it is helpful to issue your own on the spot that will be recognized by the various agencies (who presumably are doing their own).
4. There are times when other agencies just need more help. That could be helping directing traffic, or maybe 'gofer' help, or whatever. ARES Hams tend to see themselves as 'communicators only', which limits their effectiveness and value. SATERN Hams tend to help as asked, and as such become of more value to other agencies if needed. I think the SATERN attitude would be helpful to emulate, should TSP find itself in such a situation.
This information immediately above is dated as I have not been involved for the last several years, but it indicates how government from the Feds down loves to control and limit. Generally speaking, do-gooders are discouraged and even threatened with arrest if they don't 'go-away'. In this case, the government does not want your help!
Given this, but on a more positive note, I'd make some suggestions for any TSP DR effort:
1. Do not ID yourselves to authorities as 'survival', or 'survival podcast', or anything similar, for very obvious reasons.
2. Do your homework, a lot of it, before you ever do your first deployment.
3. Forge relationships with non-governmental DR groups (since that is what you will be) like the Salvation Army and the Southern Baptist DR organization, and ask for their help and advice. It may even be advisable to affiliate as a semi-related resource.
4. Look for a niche for TSP DR - something that no one is doing as an organization - perfect your skills in this niche, and possibly begin doing pre-disaster training and maybe even publicity among those you will to be known. The idea of being available for recharging devices is ok but my guess would not be very respected among the other disaster organizations, which is ok if you don't mind being so far away from the scene that you won't be of use. Recharging victim's I-phones is likely to be low on the authorities' priority list.
5. I am, of course, biased, but it seems to me that a Ham license and operating experience should be required for such a group as TSP DR. Communications are vital, and though other radio services like CB or GPRS can be used (FRS is essentially useless because of limited range) there is NEVER a problem with finding a 'channel' on Ham radio as we don't use them - we use frequencies and we have hundreds and even thousands of them.
6. Another thing to consider - SATERN and the EDS are very committed people, but we as SATERN Ham Radio responders found ourselves more than a little frustrated with fellow Hams response through the ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) when we needed their help. I'm going to bet that I might offend some other Hams on this site but the situation is what it is, and keep in mind that I am also ARES and SKYWARN. ARES volunteers tended to offer services, such as manning radio nets, but in practice many times did not show up, or if they did, would not stay long, i.e. as for a working shift. ARES is, of course, larger and more monolithic than SATERN but still the Hams in SATERN kind of shook their heads at their fellow Hams in ARES hot-and-cold responses. What this means for a TSP DR is, I think, that the more on-going training and commitment is required, the more committed response. This is opinion, of course, but again based on experience. People tend to like to help and feel important, but when the rubber meets the road, often fail to do much more than help on a very temporary basis. Sometimes that is because of other family and work commitments, which is understandable, but often DR work gets tiring, dirty, and rough. We found the quality of committed responders preferable to the quanity of numbers who were sort of flash-in-the-pans when the work needed to be done. My guess is that other (non-radio) types of DR would experience similar difficulties.
7. 'Official' ID is often helpful. TSP DR members might find it helpful to go to CERT training and achieve their ID's. Such ID may allow access to areas that would otherwise be restricted or forbidden.
There have been many, helpful comments on this. I've found the Professor and Chemsoldier especially relevant.
In conclusion, I think it is great that people want to help, esp. those with already developed skills. Realistically, it will be quite a battle, and a wearying one at that, to get past the idiotic limitations and roadblocks that government authorities will throw out. I will attempt to monitor this issue, though I am rarely on the forums much, and be available for input if needed or requested. For myself personally, as mentioned previously I am headed in another direction and most likely would not be involved in such an endeavor but I certainly would support the idea.