MUNICIPAL EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM
The Lehigh County Municipal Emergency Response Team (MERT) was formed in 2001, and training was begun that year. The Team became operational in April 2002, when it was activated for the first time.
The Team has over 50 members from several different police departments in the county. Those members serve in the following units: Communications, Hostage Negotiation, Oversight Committee, Tactical EMS, Tactical Dispatchers, and Tactical Team Members.
Lehigh County police departments have contributed the following members: Emmaus, four; Slatington, two; South Whitehall, six; Upper Macungie, three; Upper Saucon, two; and Whitehall, nine officers and one canine. Sheriff Joseph Hanna is part of the team as a negotiator, as are three Lehigh County detectives. PA East Team Region 2 provides EMS support.
The Team can be activated for a variety of reasons. These include when individuals barricade themselves in structures and threaten to harm themselves or others, when a suspect is holding someone hostage and when police are serving high-risk search or arrest warrants.
The Team, led by Det. Andrew Artim, holds training sessions every two weeks to keep members prepared for activations and current in the latest techniques as well as equipment and technology. In addition, Det. Artim and the team spend a week at Ft. Indiantown Gap for an annual comprehensive training.
District Attorney Martin said, “The Municipal Emergency Response Team has proven itself to be a valuable resource for our county. Its specially trained and highly skilled members are able to deal with situations that require coordination of response, effective communication, and the ability to neutralize potentially dangerous situations. The MERT helps ensure the safety of Lehigh County residents during law-enforcement emergencies. “