When a disaster exceeds the capacity of the affected country to cope with its own resources, the provision of external rescue and health services is required, and the deployment of relief units requested. Recently, the cost of international relief and the belief that such deployment is cost-effective has been questioned by the international community; unfortunately, there is still little informed debate and few detailed data are available. This paper presents the results of a comparative review on the cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) of search and rescue (SAR) and Emergency Medical Team (EMT) deployment. The aim of this work is to provide an overview of the topic, highlight the criteria used to assess the effectiveness, and identify gaps in existing literature. The results show that both deployments are highly expensive, and their success is strongly related to the time they need to be operational; SAR deployments are characterized by limited outcomes in terms of lives saved, and EMTs by insufficient data and lack of detailed assessment. This research highlights that the criteria used to assess the effectiveness need to be explored further, considering different purposes, lengths of stay, and different activities performed, especially for any comparison. This study concludes that data reporting should be mandatory for humanitarian response agencies.