About Us

Why We Exist

Emergency Response Massage International, Inc. (ERMI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit, volunteer organization of massage therapists that provide stress-reducing chair massage to Emergency Responders following a disaster/critical incident. ERMI team members are licensed/certified in their state, have liability insurance, and all Officers, State Coordinators, District Leaders are National Incident Management System (NIMS) certified.

ERMI was formed out of the need for a governing body to standardize training and become a clearing house for the numerous independent emergency response massage teams starting up world wide. ERMI works closely with the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation, FEMA, State and Local Emergency Management Agencies.

Vision Statement

To be instrumental in the functioning of
Emergency/Critical Incident Stress Management

Mission Statement

To provide stress relief to emergency responders and caregivers
following a disaster/critical incident


To train massage therapists in the role of disaster/critical incident response.

To educate local, state, federal support agencies and the general public in Emergency Response Stress Management.

To set standards for emergency response stress management in the massage therapy profession.

To provide the opportunity for massage therapists to become a part of the emergency response stress management team without restrictions of professional association membership.

Board of Directors

Abbie G. Yandle - President
Abbie G. Yandle

Abbie is a 2001 graduate of the Southeastern School of Neuromuscular and Massage Therapy. In January 2002 she began practicing at First Choice Chiropractic and Wellness Center in Charlotte, NC. She worked part time until September, 2004 treating 15 clients each week with Neuromuscular and CranioSacral therapies, experiencing first hand the life changing effects of massage therapy. She also worked in a day spa, at the airport, and in a pain management clinic. She started a private practice in 2002 as well, and still travels monthly to treat several of those clients. Since January of 2006 she has been working at the childress Klein branch of the Greater Charlotte YMCA. Currently she is establishing a practice in Tryon, NC incorporating NMT, CST, myofascial realease, reiki, and swedish massage.

Abbie relocated to Columbus, NC in the fall of 2008 and established an office for ERMI. An active member of the NC team since early 2004, she was deployed to coastal Mississippi during the Hurricane Katrina deployment. She has organized several fundraising and marketing events, and will be speaking at conferences for safety educators locally, regionally and nationally. Contact her if you would like ERMI to present or have a booth at your next conference.

Duncan C. Ely - Vice President

Duncan Cairnes Ely lives with his family in an historic house in Columbus, North Carolina in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. He brings to ERMI over 35 years of experience with nonprofits. He attended Chestnut Hill Academy and the University of Arizona, earned the degree of Master in Divinity from General Theological Seminary in New York City, and is completing his Doctor of Ministry degree at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria.

He has spent his life as a nonprofit CEO, educator, and editor and journalist. He has been the executive director of local, regional, national and international corporations, most of which have utilized huge volunteer corps to leverage their resources. He has taught high school English, history and religion. And he has edited and written for numerous national publications. He is a consultant on nonprofit management and for nonprofit boards and leads conferences, retreats and workshops. He is at present the Executive Director of the General Board of Examining Chaplains of the Episcopal Church and the Managing Editor of the Landrum (SC) News Leader and the Polk County (NC) News Journal.

Doug E. Rasmusson - Secretary/Founder
Doug E. Rasmusson

Doug E. resides in Provence, France with his wife Sylvie, where they manage vacation rentals along with running a small Spa.  He has been active with Emergency Response Massage since 1992, when Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida.  A student at the time, he responded with his school and teachers, to Homestead, the hardest hit part of FL.  The bombing in Oklahoma City, 1995, found him working with the Red Cross, just blocks away from the site, providing massage to search and rescue teams from across the country.  He was asked by the Florida Chapter of the AMTA, in 1997, to become the first State Coordinator for the Massage Emergency Response Team (MERT).  He held that position until moving to North Carolina in December of that year.

Doug E. was approached by the NC Office of Emergency Management in 1998 to set up a emergency response massage team for the state.  The Carolina Emergency Response Massage Team was formed and become the largest emergency massage response team in the US, responding to every hurricane that came through NC, deploying to New York after 9/11 and spending 8 weeks in Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina.  He formed Emergency Response Massage International in 2005 and team members from across the country spend 4 weeks in Mississippi and Louisiana.  In 1994 he received the International Humanitarian Award from the Southern Spa and Salon Conference of North Carolina, for his work in the emergency response massage field.  Doug E. is President Emeritus of ERMI.

Ronda S. Villa - Treasurer

Ronda Villa lives in North Charleston, SC and brings her professional experience as a massage therapist and bookkeeper.  She is a 1999 graduate of the Southeastern School of Neuromuscular and Massage Therapy of Greenville, Inc.  Ronda was the Financial Aid Director of the Greenville school before transferring to the North Charleston, SC campus where in a short time she became the Director and eventually the Vice President before leaving to open her own practice.  Ronda currently works for the Natural Image Salon and Day Spa.

Ronda joined the Carolina Emergency Response Massage Team (CERMT) in 2005, and is currently the South Carolina ERMI Coordinator.  During her 11 years as a therapist she became certified in Clinical Neuromuscular and Structural Bodywork and has studied Cupping, Reflexology, Reiki, Manual Lymphatic Drainage, Aromatherapy, and her practice specializes in Craniosacral therapy.  In addition to massage, her background is in bookkeeping.  Ronda is also an American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) member and volunteers as the 1st Vice President and Education Chair for the South Carolina Chapter.

Dena M. Frizsell - Chairperson, Fundraising Committee

Dena is a 2010 graduate of North Carolina School of Advanced Bodywork in Fairview, NC where she worked as office manager until February 2011.  She currently operates her own practice focusing on clinical massage and on-site chair massage for local businesses.  Although new to massage, Dena has had a lifelong interest in holistic and natural healing.  Her previous career paths have provided a broad base of marketing, fund-raising and bookkeeping experience.

Dena lives in Fairview, NC with her husband, Rick and son, Tanner.  She joined ERMI in the fall of 2010 and currently serves as WNC 6th District Leader.