Early Response Teams (ERT) are specially trained teams that offer assistance soon after the disaster strikes. They generally do clean up work and tasks required to stop further damage from being done, e.g. putting tarps on damaged roofs. They might do minor repairs that help make homes habitable, but they do not do extensive repairs or reconstruction (that is the job for Long Term Recovery).   

All members of an Early Response Team are required to complete the six to seven hour training course and must have a criminal background check. The training is done according to UMCOR guidelines and policies.  Persons completing the training and passing the criminal background check will be issued a badge indicating they are approved by the Rio Texas Conference and credentialed by UMCOR. 

Credentials are valid for three years.  Procedures for recertifying as an ERT member and receiving new credentials are provided at the bottom of this page.  Persons who have not served on an Early Response Team responding to a disaster since their raining must retake the ERT training course in order to receive new credentials.  A number of substantial changes have been made to the course in the past three years.  

The purpose of this team training is to orient people to the special needs and situations that are common after most natural disasters. In the first few days (and sometimes weeks) following a major storm, only teams that are trained and self-contained are useful.

An Early Response Team is a special type of VIM Team

An Early Response Team has a very narrow function and has no management or administrative responsibility for the overall disaster response. An “Early Response Team” should not be confused with a Disaster Recovery Team. An Early Response Team is a specially trained and certified team called to do early response. A Disaster Recovery Team is a type of UMVIM Team that comes to assist in the long term recovery, AFTER early response is completed. Each Early Response Team member must be trained and carry an identification badge reissued by UMCOR following successful completion of Early Response Team Training.

ERT Class


November 4
Gruene UMC

2629 E Common St.
New Braunfels, TX 78130


About the ERT Training

8:00 a.m.

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The class will cover the purpose of an Early Response Team:
• To show that the church cares about what has happened to the people,
• To provide people an outlet for sharing their disaster related needs,
• To assist the most vulnerable populations with their immediate needs, and
• To provide assistance that will help to prevent further damage to homes and property.

The class will also cover team member responsibilities, how to equip a team, how to
prevent further damage (the four basic jobs), and more.

Training will be included for:
• Tarping
• Tools/Equipment Set-up
• Team member safety

Cost: $30.00

This includes:
• Meal
• Rio Texas Conference Early Response Team (ERT) T-shirt
• Background check
• Identification Badge
• Training Resources Manual


Recertification of ERT Credentials

The following policies are established by the Disaster Response Committee of the Rio Texas Conference.  

All Early Response Team Members must be recertified every three years.  This requirement is based primarily on the 3 year limit on background checks, but also helps us to keep ERTs up to date with the most current information available. Even if you have recently completed a background check for another ministry, we ask you to update it for ERT to keep our records consistent.

There are two primary ways to recertify your initial ERT certification:

  1. Complete the online course
  2. Complete the full 8 hour ERT course again

Additionally, there may be occasion when the Conference offers a 200 level “Advanced” ERT course (Assessment, Team Leader, Advanced Cleanout, etc.)   Upon completion of one of these courses, the participant can request recertification, but will still be required to complete background check, etc.

All ERT badges are issued by the Rio Texas Conference in compliance with UMCOR policies and guidelines. 

The cost of recertification is $30.

This cost includes:

  • Rio Texas Conference Early Response Team (ERT) T-shirt
  • Background check
  • Identification Badge
  • Training Resources Manual (downloaded pdf version for the online course)


Chain Saw Team Training

October 28 at FUMC, Victoria
407 N Bridge St.
Victoria, TX 77901

Chain Saw training is an advanced training for Early Response Team members. A special credential will be issued by the Conference Disaster Response Committee to participants who successfully complete the training,. At its meeting late last year, the CDRC established protocols to guide the new addition to the disaster response effort of the Conference (see below). 

Those interested in registering may register online. Participants will be expected to purchase steel toed shoes, approved gloves and a helmet. The Conference will purchase chaps as well as saws and other equipment. Registration is open but priority will be given to those who have current ERT credentials. Those with out-of-date credentials or who have not yet taken ERT training will be accepted on a space available basis but will not receive chain saw credentials until they receive current ERT Credentials issued by UMCOR.  

Rio Texas Conference Chain Saw Protocols

Chain Saw Certification is done by the Rio Texas Conference which will issue badges. The following protocols are established relative to chain saw operation by Early Response Teams. 

  1. Only certified chain saw operators may operate chain saws.
  2. A current ERT Badge is required in order to be certified as a chain saw operator. 
  3. Chain saw operators must be at least 18 years old. (This is the minimum age for ERT members.)
  4. Chain saw operators must complete the conference chain saw training including the following elements:
    a. Classroom instruction in chain saw safety, maintenance, operation and cutting
    b. Field demonstrations of chainsaw operation and cutting procedures by qualified instructors.
    c. Hands on instruction for volunteers in chainsaw operation and cutting procedures. 
  5. Operators must use all personal protective equipment including helmet, ear protection, eye protection, steel toed shoes, protective chaps, and approved gloves when operating a chain saw.
  6. Only Conference owned or approved chain saws may be used. 
  7. A Permission to Enter Property and Liability Waiver must be signed by the property owner before a chain saw crew can work on a site.
  8. Each chain saw operator must sign a Liability Waiver before deploying on a chain saw team.
  9. Each chain saw crew must have a designated safety officer who will monitor safety procedures on the work site.
  10. Chain saw crews must abide by all ERT protocols adopted by the Conference Disaster Response Committee.

Click Here to register for Chain Saw Training