13 Commandments for Disaster Relief Chaplains


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13 Commandments for Disaster Relief Chaplains

  1. Before deploying anyone to a disaster site there must be arrangements made for safe housing, food, water, and proper sanitation.
  2. Always personally confirm as many details as possible before deploying chaplains anywhere.
  3. Chaplains should never be deployed alone, but in teams of three to better protect and support one another, as well as providing the best ministry possible. 
  4. Never deploy anyone longer than 7-10 days at one time. Rest periods are required away from scene to aid in the individuals handling of secondary traumatic stress, or of their own critical incident stress.
  5. While deployed use a daily “defusing” to aid in dealing with the situation, circumstances, and stress encountered on site. Also, a daily morning team devotional time can help prepare everyone for the coming day. 
  6. Team members should always be vetted before you travel to the recovery site. In the field it is too late to realize that a team member is not able, due to physical, emotional, or spiritual reasons, to perform adequately on site. 
  7. Do not delay in sending someone home who is not able to adequately minister, or who creates issues in the team or in the recovery center’s operation or environment.
  8. Look for a recovery center or area that values the unique gifting of chaplains. Recovery sites are not all equal and some will make life and ministry tough for chaplains. Any site that requires chaplains to perform physical labor instead of, or prior to, ministry needs to be avoided when possible. 
  9. Team members watch out for team members. Never work alone or out of sight from others, maintain situational awareness, and know where you are going and how to get there. 
  10. Team Leaders need to be trained and should have previous disaster response experience.
  11. Ensure that all team members understand that chaplains pull their own weight while on site. We will do what is asked of us without complaint.
  12. Always seek a better method of reaching out to everyone possible in a disaster area. And when necessary and practical – use as many methods as possible.
  13. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Good communications are a necessity and without the conscious effort of all team members it will not normally occur.

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