Spiritual 911

Maine's Clergy First Responders

a first responder and clergy member meet with family members during an emergency

A Spiritual Statewide Network

Inspired by Volunteers of America's Ministry, American Red Cross of Maine has created a statewide network of Clergy First Responders. Ordained clergy from across the state are available and on call to attend any crisis situation where there has been loss of life. Our Chaplain Al Boyce explained how it works.

"We all undertook special training to be a Clergy Responder for Maine and, if necessary, the nation. We each have a day a month being on call should there be a fire or accident where there is loss of life and clergy is needed." He added, "I am proud to represent Volunteers of America as part of that network."

Lori Whittimore, the head of Clergy First Responders, triages the calls. The member on call is then connected to the appropriate department to provide assistance (fire department, police etc.). If the need is extraordinary (a major disaster), she will put out a call to everyone on the Responders list.

The role of a Clergy First Responder is to provide on-scene support for families and first responders when there is loss of life, then follow up care and condolence care as needed. It is done with team approach, meaning spiritual care is paired with medical and emergency responders.

Reverend Al smiles gently when he says, "We pray we aren't needed, but will be there prepared to help in whatever way we can, if we are called."