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In Brief — Nov. 23, 2005 {0403}

In Brief — Nov. 23, 2005 {0403}

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

In Brief — Nov. 23, 2005

Nov. 23, 2005  News media contact: Tita Parham*  
800-282-8011   Orlando {0403}

Training teaches volunteers to be early responders

An e-Review News Item
By e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

ORLANDO — Lynette Fields, executive director of Servant Ministry at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Orlando, leads a training on early response after a disaster. Photo by Christy Smith, Photo #05-280.

LAKELAND — A first-ever Florida Conference Early Response Team training brought together more than 80 United Methodists with a heart for helping their neighbors in the earliest stages of a disaster.

The East Central District of the conference sponsored the four-hour training Oct. 29 — just five days after Hurricane Wilma hit the state — at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Orlando. Attendees received a disaster response manual, certification and credentials identifying them as early responders for the Florida Conference.

"I was stunned by the excellent and superb training," said Christy Smith, a disaster consultant with United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). "It was an excellent presentation of vital information that will empower local churches to form their own early response units or to participate in district units."

The training focused on the types, phases and levels of a disaster and explained what is meant by early response. It covered spiritual and emotional care, support from UMCOR, faith-based response in disaster, and team leadership needs and equipment.

Lynette Fields, executive director for Servant Ministry at St. Luke's United Methodist Church, and Carolyn Green, director of the church's missions ministry, organized the event.

"She (Fields) touched on important issues that are related to long-term recovery and gave a succinct report on UMCOR and the faith-based response in disaster," Smith said.

Safety and practical aspects of early disaster response were also covered. Chad Garmon of IMPACT Ministries explained how to install tarps on roofs; Kevin O'Donnell of the Chain Saw Gang of First Presbyterian Church of Maitland demonstrated chain saw safety; and Kay Wingard, coordinator of the conference United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, shared tips from her experience taking work teams to hard-hit areas.

Attendees were able to practice some of the things they learned. They formed teams and simulated responding to a mock disaster, which meant determining advance preparation, needs upon arrival and appropriate handling of requests commonly made at a disaster location.

The training also inlcuded reports on the needs of people in South Florida affected by Hurricane Wilma and those of communities in Mississippi and Louisiana dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"Everyone who attended left with useful new information that will motivate and challenge churches in new ways to respond to God's call to the suffering," Smith said. "I was grateful and humbled to be part of such an energizing and spiritual event."


This article relates to Disaster Response.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.