Responding to Disasters

Patience is the key in responding to a disaster. It is important for the emergency services personnel to have the time and space needed to conduct search and rescue operations and secure gas and electric lines before volunteers come in to a disaster-stricken area. This diagram outlines the flow of a disaster response work plan including who does what and when.

Once the scene is secured and the search and rescue operations are over, it is time for the Early Response Teams and Spiritual and Emotional Care Teams to come in and begin their work of assessment and securing structures to prevent more damage to personal property.

Once it is safe and needs are identified, it is time for trained volunteer teams to come in. Volunteers In Mission (VIM) teams do long-term recovery work.

When a disaster strikes, the conference disaster response coordinator will communicate the need for volunteers through e-mail, telephone and web contact.

Insurance for VIM teams

Historically, the Mission Volunteers office of the General Board of Global Ministries has offered insurance for VIM teams; however, effective Jan. 1, 2014, VIM teams have an opportunity to obtain their insurance from one of three sources: North Central Jurisdiction, Southeast Jurisdiction, or Northeast Jurisdiction.

Each of these jurisdictions will provide insurance coverage for VIM missioners, regardless of the home jurisdiction of the missioners. Contact information is as follows:


If you would like more information, or if your congregation is interested in disaster response training opportunities, contact the Rev. Hollie Tapley, disaster response coordinator at 800-745-2350, ext. 111, or htapley@greatplainsumc.org.