Emergency Preparedness Specialist Calling

A couple of weeks ago, I received a calling in my ward to be the “Emergency Preparedness Specialist.” Seeing how I know very little about this subject, I thought I would document what I learn in my blog. Having this forum to write about emergency preparedness, I believe, will also motivate me, help me learn more, and provide me a place to post the resources I find.

An “In Between the Lines” Calling

When a member of my ward bishopric called me into his office and extended a call for me to serve, I accepted without hesitation. I then asked if he had any information he could give me about the duties of the Emergency Preparedness Specialist calling. He directed me to look up what it says about the calling in the LDS Church Handbook. When I got home, I went to LDS.org to the online version of Church Handbook 2. I searched and was ultimately unable to find information on this calling, but I wasn’t sure if it was that the calling didn’t exist or if it was just usability problems on the website. I pulled out my wife’s hard copy of the handbook, and searched some more, and eventually realized that there was no documented calling titled “Emergency Preparedness Specialist.”

Some time later I ran into a member of the bishopric in the hall at Church one Sunday. He asked me how my calling was going, and I said I wasn’t sure where to start. He asked me if I had read in the Handbook about the duties of my calling. I said I had looked but was unable to find that specific calling. He responded, “Yeah, that’s one of those in-between-the-lines callings,” and encouraged me to seek the inspiration from the Lord on how to magnify the calling.

What the Handbook Does Say Related to Emergency Preparedness

LDS Church Handbook 2: Administering the Church discusses the concept of the ward Welfare Specialist. It says:

“Welfare specialists serve as resources to help the bishopric and to help Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society leaders perform their welfare duties. The bishopric may call an employment specialist to help members prepare for and find suitable employment. The bishopric may also call other welfare specialists to help members with needs such as education, training, nutrition, sanitation, home storage, health care, family finances, and the Perpetual Education Fund.”

In the section on Ward Councils, it says:

“They compile and maintain a list of ward members whose skills might be useful in responding to short-term, long-term, or disaster-caused needs. They develop and maintain a simple written plan for the ward to respond to emergencies (see Handbook 1, 5.2.11). They coordinate this plan with similar plans in the stake and community.”

In the section on Stake Council Meeting, it also talks about emergency preparedness:

“Counsel together about welfare matters. Plan how to encourage members to be self-reliant. Ensure that welfare resources within the stake are made available to the wards as needed. Develop and maintain a simple written plan for the stake to respond to emergencies.”

In the section on policies and guidelines, the Handbook also briefly talks about emergencies.

“During an emergency, the stake presidency determines whether or not to hold regular ward meetings. In a community-wide emergency or disaster, the stake president may assist legitimate disaster relief agencies by allowing meetinghouses to be used as emergency shelters. The Church retains control. Stake and ward leaders ensure that people who use the buildings observe Church standards of conduct, including the Word of Wisdom, while they are in the buildings.”

There is also a sub-section on Self-Reliance, from the Welfare section of the Handbook. It is too lengthy to include here, but I plan to discuss that in a later post.

A Road Map Before Hitting the Accelerator

The counselor in the bishopric has, since that time, flooded me with ideas about what to do with this calling. He has talked to me about emergency response plans for the stake and other wards, about home storage and 72-hour kits, about proper sanitation and the handling of dead bodies, about nuclear weapons attacks and EMPs (electro-magnetic pulses).  For me, moving forward on just about any of those items feels a bit like speeding up when one doesn’t know where he is going.

I think the next step is to develop emergency preparedness goals and plans based on gospel principles, the council of the living prophets, and the needs of the people in this area. According to the handbook, such plans and actions are ultimately the responsibility of the bishopric and ward council members. Yet, the bishopric seems to be looking to me to take the initiative to get it started. I will take that opportunity and begin by doing my homework, properly framing the issue and then, by counseling with the our councils, discuss possible solutions and hopefully arrive at God inspired results.

11 replies
  1. Karisa
    Karisa says:

    I just got this calling last week and found the same lack of information from the Handbook. I met with the counselor and he told me, “The sky’s the limit”. They want me to “run with it”; I’m just not sure where I’m “running”. I’m anxious to see what you come up with.

    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Though I’ve been given little direct, I too feel like my bishopric is looking for me to run with it. But I’ve heard that the definition of insanity is to speed up when you don’t know where you are going. I like to think I’m not crazy, so for me, I wanted to get a good gospel doctrine based foundation before moving ahead too much. That’s why I wrote the follow up blog posts on the Doctrinal Basis of Emergency Preparedness and the Basic Principles of Self-Reliance. With those as a foundation, I felt much more comfortable moving ahead with a ward emergency response plan. That is the one deliverable I know they are looking for and I now have a draft. I’ll be sharing it, and much more in the coming weeks. Good luck. God be with you till we meet again.

  2. Sean Sanders
    Sean Sanders says:

    I am always looking around for things about emergency preparedness to help me out. In our ward we do have a emergency preparedness specialist and he has helped me out quite a bit. One thing that might help you out is this website http://www.ldsprepper.com, from this website you can download many things that will help you out and also get advice from other members to see what they are doing to get others prepared.

  3. Veronica Steele
    Veronica Steele says:

    I was called as the emergency preparedness specialist about two years ago. I to could not find anything on the emergency preparedness and what we are suppose to do, so I prayed about it and ran with the inspriation I was given. I have classes on everything. Like making a 72 hour kit for each family member, cooking without electricity, heating without electricity, storing water, making water barrels, gardening, canning food, communcation. This is just a few of the classes we have had. Pray and the Lord will give you direction for what you need in your ward.

  4. Aaron Rossiter
    Aaron Rossiter says:

    Like all of you, I too have been called to be the Emergency Preparedness Specialist in my ward. My Bishop extended the call to me and I was more than willing to serve. Since I am retired Army Infantry, I knew I had some experience and training to share with the ward.

    My bishop gave me a binder that a young man had put together for his Eagle Scout Project with a single sheet for each family in the ward with a MapQuest picture and all their contact information. This was a great help to getting started as I decided to ensure the list was up to date by making sure that everyone in the ward had verified their address and contact information on LDS.org. Without this information being correct, it can cause havoc in an emergency. By doing this, I am creating a master list of the ward and then splitting the area’s of the ward into groups with 1 person in the group, appointed by the bishop, to be the leader/ main contact in an emergency. This allows the bishop and the stake to send and receive messages about those in need during an emergency. This is still a work in progress as there is a steady flow of a few in and out of the ward every quarter.

    Next items I am working toward are:
    – Listing all members who are home bound, or are disabled and require additional assistance in an emergency.
    – Master list of those in the ward with tools that could be useful in an emergency, i.e. generator, chainsaw, shovels, pick-axes, tools that help to clean up damage after an emergency.
    – List of all members who are licensed HAM operators. Each stake has a list of those in each of their wards so if the cell network and phone lines are down, information can be sent and received from Bishops and Stake Presidents and vice versa.
    – My wife is in the Relief Society Presidency and I plan on utilizing her help to create the classes for the 72 hour kit, food storage (water and food), and sanitation.

  5. Shane
    Shane says:

    Great string of posts on an important subject. I love how you used the modern day oracles as a basis for principle based, Spirit led foundations, on which to construct your area’s plan, with its needs and resources. All in all a great read with much good insight and commentary.

  6. John
    John says:

    Love your blog on Emergency Preparedness Specialist calling. So what is your actual official calling (in your opinion); Welfare Specialist –with a focus on Emergency Preparedness? Thanks


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