ERT Program

Disasters like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and fires impact an entire community causing physical, economic, and emotional damage.

United Methodists are known to arrive early after disasters and are often the last to leave. Here's a typical time line:

Emergency Responders handle the initial disaster response performing rescues and combating immediate damage.

As the emergency phase winds down, Early Response Teams (ERTs) arrive to help. A main goal is to listen to the survivors, to find out what their needs are. Further tasks might include tarping roofs to limit water damage, removing damaged household items, cleaning, removing wet sheetrock. Typically a team stays for just three days and is replaced by another team as needed.

  •  Teams are self sufficient and self sustaining. Our conference does maintain several tool trailers, but individual team members pay for their own personal protective gear, food and transportation.
  • Many trained early responders are needed because when disasters occur, some people will not be available.

It's a great privilege to be allowed into a family's experience at the worst time of their life.  To listen with love and  begin the recovery process reminds everyone involved that God is right there--offering healing and hope.

Abilities and Skills

  • A variety of skills and abilities are needed for a complete Early Response Team.
  • Each team member must be a compassionate listener and must work safely.
  • Those with leadership skills and knowledge of early response act as team and assistant leaders.
  • A safety officer makes sure team members are wearing appropriate protective gear, drinking enough, and using ladders and tools appropriately. 
  • The logistics officer arranges for supplies and transportation and removes any unsafe conditions at a work site.
  • Base camp manager takes care of meals, water and lodging. This is critical because an ERT has to sustain itself and cannot depend on community support.
  • Listener is designated to get survivors stories and to relay their needs to appropriate agencies.
  • Equipment maintenance person keeps conference owned tools in good repair.

ERT Training

  • Begins with an eight hour class led by an UMCOR certified trainer.
  • Minimum age: 18
  • Background check will be performed
  • An ERT badge will be issued which expires after three years. Recertification classes may be shorter than 8 hours.

Interested in becoming part of an Early Response Team? Please register in this form. For more information, please email our ERT Coordinator,


Early Response Team training and deployment is a combined effort of United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM) and  United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)