Early Response Teams


“…to provide a caring, Christian presence in the aftermath of a disaster.”

Early Response Teams (ERT) fill a specific need in the early days after a disaster to establish the presence of the church.  A disaster is any specific event that results in overwhelming physical, economic and/or emotional damage to a community. Early Response Teams are flexible so that they can respond to any disaster that may occur.

Early Response Teams …

  • share the love of Christ in ways that make a Christian difference
  • take steps to prevent further damage to property, by doing tasks such as tarping and cleaning out flooded homes
  • are caring listeners who will help survivors begin to heal
  • provide an opportunity for Christian service for those who want to give their time.

Why do we need Early Response Teams?

  • disaster survivors are reassured that the church cares for them
  • members of the local church and the community are able to see the church in action
  • Early Response Teams provides immediate assistance to persons, who are usually older or disabled without a family support system nearby
  • Early Response Teams provides immediate and quick response care for survivors

Basic ERT Information

While there is no upper age limit, all ERT members must be 18+.

All ERT members must be trained by UMCOR Authorized trainers.

All ERT members must have had a background check and be approved by their conference.

All ERT’s must function as a team.  Below are the members essential to any ERT and a brief description of each person’s role.

  • Team Leader needs to have leadership skills and have thorough knowledge of the Early Response Team’s role.
  • Assistant Team Leader serves as a back-up to the team leader
  • Logistics finds the needed supplies and transportation for the team, and is also responsible for team safety at the work site.
  • Base Camp Manager is responsible for meals, water and lodging.
  • Equipment Maintenance is responsible for keeping conference owned tools and equipment in working condition. Small engine repair skills, and a working knowledge of power tools is helpful
  • Listener is designated to listen to the survivors and get their stories. This person also keeps the team’s forms and is responsible for relaying the survivors’ needs to the appropriate agency or relief organization.
  • Safety Officer is designated to pay   particular attention to the individual team members’ safety. This includes making sure that team members are wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, are drinking and eating often enough, and are not over- exerting themselves.Specialized training for individual roles may be available. To request more information on training opportunities contact Jeremy Wicks (contact information at the bottom of this page)

Equipping an ERT…  Each team must be self-sufficient and self-sustaining. As a team is making preparations, they need to keep in mind the need for basic necessities, such as food, fuel, water and sleeping gear, as well as debris removal equipment. The West Michigan Conference currently has one equipment trailer available for use by Early Response Teams. Contact the Conference Disaster Response Coordinator for more information

Jeremy Wicks
(517) 980-6855
[email protected]

DOWNLOAD Early Response Team (ERT) Brochure

DOWNLOAD ERT Background Check Authorization

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