Early Response Team (ERT)


ERT1Disasters 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. Shepherd of the Hills United Methodist Church’s (SHUMC’s) ERT maintains a tool trailer with the tools and equipment necessary to respond a disaster. However, individual team members pay for their own personal protective gear, food and transportation. ERT’s must wait for an invitation to go to a disaster site. Going too early can cause confusion and can put more people in danger.

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 appropriate knowledge act as team leader and assistant team leader. A safety officer makes sure team members are wearing appropriate protective gear, are sufficientlyERT3 hydrated, and are using ladders and tools appropriately in addition to assessing the hazards of the general work site. 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 the team may have to sustain itself and without any community support. Listener is designated to collect survivors’ stories and to relay their needs to appropriate agencies. Equipment maintenance person keeps SHUMC’s 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.
  • Must complete an on-line Safe Gatherings course
  • An ERT badge will be issued which expires after three years.
  • Recertification classes may be shorter than 8 hours.


Many trained early responders are needed because when disasters occur, some people will not be available.


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

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


If you are interested in joining SHUMC’s Early Response Team, please contact either Bob Moffitt (on 435-817-3400, robertmoffitt54@msn.com or Neil Cole (on 925-708-3655, neil.cole@att.net)

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