The Masonic principle of helping, aiding, and assisting, within the length of a Mason’s cable tow, a worthy Brother, his wife and children, widows and orphans, is now being put in action by a newly formed group of Masons known as the Masonic Emergency Response Team (MERT). MERT’s purpose is to provide speedy and tangible help to anyone affected in a disaster.
The Central Coast MERT, established on June 24, 2016, with eight (8) Master Masons, led by Kurt Russell, Operations Manager of Disaster Services for the Pacific Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross, and Dan Flynn, Emergency Manager of Santa Barbara County's Emergency Operations Center, began the process of setting up a disaster response team of Masons trained as supervisors.
By serving as supervisors, even Masons with physical limitations can help to ease the burden of disaster center managers in coordinating the efforts of volunteers.
The team members are designated Disaster Service Workers (DSWs) in the State of California and will be trained by state, federal, and American Red Cross departments to be recognized as national first responders for the American Red Cross, and will also be Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trained. With state, federal, and American Red Cross certification, this first ever MERT will be a nationally recognized disaster response team with the desire that this new movement will be adopted nationwide by other Masonic Lodges.
All Masons are welcome to participate, and there are no physical or health requirements. The team is seeking more Brothers to join them in this initial endeavor; from San Luis Obispo to Thousand Oaks. The majority of the training is by the individual on-line, with many classes available on-site in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties local facilities.
The Central Coast MERT meets at the last Friday of every month at the Santa Barbara Masonic Center, 16 E. Carrillo St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101.