An Early Response Team heads back home while serving in Fairbanks, Alaska to fix houses affected by flooding of the Yukon River back in 2013.

SAVE THE DATE: Disaster Response Training, September 23 and 24 in Richland

By Kathy Bryson | Photos by PNW Disaster Response

IntroductionOver the coming months, and maybe years, many volunteers are needed to help recover from the recent fires in Eastern Washington’s Okanogan County — plus be prepared to respond to other natural disasters locally, regionally and even nationally.

As with anything else, there is a right way and a less than right way to provide volunteer services. Hear from experienced volunteers, participate in hands-on activities and learn the right way to help disaster survivors move towards their “new normal” by attending one or all of the following classes:

Friday, September 23, 5:00pm – 9:00pm
• Early Response Team (ERT) Refresher Course
• Spiritual and Emotional Care Training
• Connecting Neighbors Intro

Saturday, September 24, 8:30am – 4:30pm
• Early Response Team Basic Class
• United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) Team Leader Class

Classes are open to anyone over 18 years old.

All classes to be held at the Central United Protestant Church, 1124 Stevens Dr., Richland, Wash. with a light lunch provided on Saturday.

For more information please email Kathy Bryson at

Steve Meacham, Eva Kuusinen-Coriveau, Jim Truitt, Rick Larson are at a site mucking out the bottom of a home.
Steve Meacham, Eva Kuusinen-Coriveau, Jim Truitt, and Rick Larson are at a site mucking out the bottom of a home.


(Note: Once you click the link above, registration fields will be after the class descriptions.)

Class Descriptions

Early Response Team Refresher (For previously certified ERT volunteers)
ERTs are certified and badged by the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to perform their duties and provide consistency across the US. Each ERT is required to attend a refresher course and have their background checks updated every three years.

Spiritual and Emotional Care
This course provides basic information on spiritual and emotional care for survivors, first responders, and UMVIM team members. It emphasizes listening skills, what to say, and what not to say. Spiritual and emotional care is everyone’s responsibility, especially following a disaster.

Connecting Neighbors
The first responders on the ground following a disaster are always your neighbors. This program helps individuals, families, neighborhoods, congregations, etc. develop plans for helping each other in the event of a disaster.

Early Response Team Basic (The required class to join an ERT and obtain a badge)
ERTs make a survivor’s home safe, secure, and sanitary along with preventing further damage. Learn how to “muck-out” flooded homes, remove debris, assist with donations management, perform damage assessments, and respond to requests for help from the local emergency management team while providing a caring Christian presence. Understand how to support a fire response through donations management, sheltering, damage assessment, information gathering and working directly with survivors through their recovery process.

Volunteer in Mission (VIM) Team Leader Training
Whether you have never led a VIM team or you have led several, this is the training for you. Learn how to lead or just be part of a VIM team who are hoping to help survivors in areas such as the fire recovery in Okanagan County. The course will cover the basics of leading a VIM team within the PNW Annual Conference, including requirements to work with the Okanagan County Long Term Recovery Group, housing and food, safety, and equipment needed. Team orientation, required forms, and contacts will also be covered.

Kathy Bryson serves as the Early Response Team Coordinator for the PNW Conference of The United Methodist Church.  Contact Kathy at


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