The mission of an Early Response Team is to provide a caring Christian presence in the aftermath of a disaster. Early Response Teams (ERTs) are neither a first response group of emergency workers nor a recovery, rebuild, or repair team; 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 it serves.
Early Response Teams were first created by the United Methodist Church in the mid 1990s. It began, and remains today, as a cooperative effort between the United Methodist Committee on Relief and the United Methodist Volunteers in Mission. Click here to find out when the next ERT training will be held in your area or click here to find out who the Disaster Response Coordinator is in your area.
ERTs are trained primarily to respond within their own community. Your team does not need an invitation to respond in your own community or your in your own District within the Annual Conference. To travel to another district, conference, or jurisdiction requires the invitation by the affected community. (For information on jurisdictions and conferences go to www.umc.org/directory.)
Like the Good Samaritan, we often want to drop everything and go when we see brothers and sisters in need. It is important to remember that disaster-affected areas are severely strained in terms of available resources like clean water, electricity, and adequate shelter. If we are not careful, our well-meaning presence can overburden those already scarce resources. We can be the disaster that follows the disaster. That is why ERTs only serve by invitation. Stay in contact with your Disaster Response Coordinator to find out how to donate money to the relief effort or to find out when it is appropriate to send teams.