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The Salvation Army's Role in Emergency Disaster Services
Overview: The Salvation Army is officially recognized by federal, state and local governments across the country as a sanctioned disaster relief and assistance organization. As a relief organization within the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD). The Salvation Army was involved in the development of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) recently released National Response Framework. The Army is recognized within this framework. The Army provides relief services to communities impacted by both natural and man-made disasters until the service is no longer needed by the community. When initiating a disaster relief operation, the first aim is to meet the basic needs of those who have been affected, both survivors and first responders. Even at this level, The Salvation Army's workers are ministering in that they serve as a means of expressing God's love to those in need. The Salvation Army's primary goals are to offer:
Phase 1 - Emergency Preparedness: As one of the nation's major emergency relief organizations, The Salvation Army recognizes the critical importance of being prepared for natural and man-made disasters. Therefore, the Army takes steps to ensure its own ability to respond quickly and efficiently to a disaster while also working to educate other disaster professionals and the public at large about how to prepare for and respond to an emergency situation. Preparedness activities include:
Phase 2 - Immediate Emergency Response: The Salvation Army provides numerous disaster relief services. Each disaster creates its own unique circumstances and the Army's response therefore varies from place to place based upon the community's situation and the magnitude of the disaster. Emergency response services are activated on short notice according to an agreed-upon notification procedure coordinated with federal, state and local governments. Typically, Salvation Army personnel and resources will congregate at predetermined staging areas, entering the impacted area only once government first-responders have indicated that it is safe and constructive to do so. These immediate response activities include:
Phase 3 - Long-Term Disaster Recovery: Depending on the magnitude of the disaster, The Salvation Army may continue providing immediate response services, like emergency shelter and food service well into the recovery process. Additionally, the Army will often coordinate with local, state and federal entities to develop and execute long-term strategic disaster recovery plans. These activities include:
Spiritual and Emotional Care: Throughout the duration and aftermath of a major disaster, The Salvation Army provides spiritual comfort and emotional support upon request to victims and emergency workers coping with the stress of a catastrophe. Salvation Army counselors, who are often ordained as clergy (officers), may simply offer a "ministry of presence," but often people who know about The Salvation Army as representatives of God may ask for prayer or help from the Bible. Other activities may include comforting the injured and bereaved, conducting funeral and memorial services or providing chaplaincy service to disaster workers and emergency management personnel. Disaster relief and recovery services are provided to all in need without discrimination.