Goal to expand capacity in disasters and strengthen everyday ministries
Central Territorial Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) has launched a territory-wide Emergency Response Chaplaincy Certification program. The new program is in response to the federal government’s initiative to resource type all critical assets to assist in deployments during times of disaster and emergency response.
This resource typing (identifying and categorizing resources like personnel, equipment and training) will allow emergency managers to request specific competency levels of emotional and spiritual care (ESC) resources from The Salvation Army. The certification consists of three defined types of emergency emotional and spiritual care: basic, intermediate, advanced. These levels of ESC providers are categorized according to the National Incident Management System (NIMS) by establishing a comprehensive, integrated, national mutual aid and resource management system.
“It’s really all about helping hurting people in times of crisis,” said Kevin Ellers, territorial disaster services coordinator who oversees the certification. “It enables us to define both our emotional and spiritual care providers and leadership for the teams.”
The territory’s new chaplaincy certification program has been piloted in Milwaukee, Wis., since May 2015 and has shown significant results. More than 120 people have been trained in Spiritual and Psychological First Aid, and currently there are 55 active chaplains in the program. A partnership with the Milwaukee Police Department has resulted in Salvation Army chaplains being called to 286 emergency scenes, including in the line of duty deaths, community unrest and riots, homicides, infant deaths, suicides and drug overdoses. From January 2018 to May 2019, Salvation Army chaplains made approximately 1,500 emotional and spiritual care contacts. Volunteers have given almost 10,000 hours of service, nearly a fourth of which were given by chaplains in national disaster relief deployments after Hurricanes Harvey, Florence and Michael and Nebraska flooding.
“It has been very exciting to see the successful pilot of this program in Milwaukee and the many people who are being helped both in times of crisis and disasters but also to see how the chaplaincy program has expanded to help our everyday Salvation Army ministries,” said Kevin.
In reference to the new territorial program, he explained, “While the primary focus is to prepare individuals to serve in small and large-scale disaster relief, we want to integrate them into daily Salvation Army programming during non-disaster times to support our programs and help them gain experience.”
For more information, talk with your corps officer or divisional EDS director or visit: centralusa.salvationarmy.org.