ABOUT: Early Response Teams (ERTs) are the volunteers who go in right after the emergency phase of a disaster to muck out homes, tarp roofs, remove wet drywall and insulation and cut up downed trees to make homes safe, sanitary and secure. No repairs are performed by these teams. They often need to be totally self-sufficient, taking care of their own meals and transportation into and out of the affected area. Training is mandatory in order to participate on one of these teams and reasonably good health is required. Our goal is to eventually be able to deploy ERTs from each of the six districts in our conference.
The mission of an Early Response Team is to provide a caring Christian presence in the aftermath of a disaster. These teams are neither first response groups of emergency workers nor recovery rebuild or repair teams; rather they fill a specific need in the early days after a disaster to establish the presence of the church.
While there are specific tasks assigned to early response teams, no task is more important than the people they serve. The teams are a cooperative effort between the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM). They are deployed through UMVIM and serve at the direction of the Disaster Response Committee of the conference in which the disaster occurred. The teams are trained primarily to respond within their own community but are prepared to travel away from home when invited in by the community experiencing the disaster. UMVIM and ERT teams never go anywhere without an invitation and all ERT members receive a minimum of 8 hours training prior to deployment.
Eastern PA Conference Disaster Ministry Coordinator,