Disaster Emergency Response Team (DERT)


Disasters and emergencies happen. In Maryland. Around the country and the world. Natural and man-made – tornadoes, flooding, coal mine explosions, oil spills, earthquakes, school shootings and more. Each of us responds as best we can or is left to ask: What could I have done to help?

To answer that question, and to prepare for future disasters, the diocese formed a disaster preparedness and response team known as DERT/MD along with a volunteer network in association with Episcopal Relief and Development.

DERT/MD’s mission is two-fold: Prepare and Respond

  • Help prepare our churches and ministries for the What Ifs. Fire, flood, theft…church buildings aren’t immune to disaster. Having a plan in place helps church staff and members manage and mitigate a disaster’s effect on parishioners, outreach, property, and overall operations.
  • How we respond to an emergency or disaster says a lot about who we are. The same goes for our churches. DERT/MD helps congregations discern their best response – locally and far away.  Emergency grants from Episcopal Relief & Development can help extend local ministry into a meaningful response. Please contact Sharon Tillman to learn more about these grants and how to initiate one.

How are we responding?

  • Pastoral Care Givers offer comfort, support and a well-trained ear to disaster victims and their support networks. Information, including qualifications and guidelines, and how to join the Maryland network will be coming soon.
  • Fundraising is usually our first course of action when responding to a disaster. When in doubt of how to help donations to Episcopal Relief & Development or the Diocese of Maryland on behalf of a specific event will allow those on the front lines to directly aid those in need.
  • Communications is a key element of our response. Knowing the facts helps us all respond in a more meaningful way and to keep rumors to a minimum. Post-disaster communications and requests for donations or volunteers will most often come through the diocesan e-newsletter.

Episcopal Relief & Development

Maryland VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters),

Mental Health  Association of Maryland (Mental Health First Aid)

Take the DERT Survey

Are you ready? Take the DERT Survey.

Who to contact:
Sharon Tillman
Diocesan Disaster Coordinator
410-467-1399, 800-443-1399 or stillman@archive.episcopalmaryland.org

DERT/MD Chair:
The Rev. Sue Oldfather

Episcopal Relief and Development

Katie Mears
Program Manager for Domestic Disaster Preparedness and Response

Our Mission and Ministry
The Disaster and Emergency Response Team of Maryland (D.E.R.T. /MD) is formed of people throughout the Diocese whose leadership role is to coordinate efforts in response to actual disasters and needs. Their purpose is to:

    • Be the liaison between organizations such as Episcopal Relief and Development, volunteers for the Maryland Defense Force, and governmental and non-governmental response agencies, for the dissemination of information, needs and resources.
    • Work proactively to gather and compile parish resources that could be made available to those affected by any kind of disaster. This information would be placed, and kept up to date, on a Diocesan website that is open to all.
    • Work proactively to provide or encourage training, certification and credentialing of appropriate people within each parish.
    • Encourage parishes to develop their own disaster preparedness plan; members of the Committee would be available for guidance as and when needed.
    • Provide chaplains for first-responders, as well as provide on-scene chaplain assistance. A Diocesan wide prayer chain might also be part of the spiritual dimension of our work.