Guard yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.
The overwhelming majority of churches in the United States are not prepared for an emergency situation occurring on their campus. Recent mass shooting events has brought the need for church security teams to the forefront. Lack of preparedness can result in confusion and a delay in response to a critical incident. Depending on the severity of the incident, this confusion and delayed response could result in substantial injury or loss of life.
There are a number of potential safety risks that local houses of worship face:
· Medical Emergencies - diabetic emergencies, heart attacks, stroke, falls, etc.
· Sever Weather - flash flooding, tornadoes, etc.
· Active Attacker - shootings, knife attacks, robbery, etc.
A church safety team is a ministry consisting of a group of volunteer members who are specially trained to respond in emergency situations. The safety team also serves as a deterrent to criminal activity by providing a visible security presence and monitoring the campus grounds for suspicious persons and/or activity. Finally, safety team members serve as the liaison between the church and emergency services responding to an incident on campus.
Man down! Do you know what to do?
Minor first aid incidents and medical emergencies can happen at any time. A key benefit of a church safety team is ensuring that there is always someone ready to respond who is properly trained in basic first aid and life saving techniques. In many medical emergencies, response time and proper stabilizing care can be the difference between life and death.
Despite the fact that places of worship have numerous fire extinguishers positioned throughout their campuses, most people are not familiar with their proper operation. This is another area where a properly trained Safety Team member could make the difference between a fire that can be quickly contained and extinguished and one that gets out of control.
In cases where a fire has spread beyond containment, a quick and orderly evacuation can save lives. Beyond posting signs with evacuation routes and emergency exits, the Safety Team facilitates an evacuation by controlling the flow of the crowd and directing them to the nearest safe exit and muster point.
The Safety Team also facilitates the reunion of separated family members and, if appropriate, the orderly re-entry into the facility.
Severe weather has the potential to create catastrophic events with very little warning. In these types of events it is critical to quickly get people to a safe place. Because these types of events are extremely rare in certain parts of Texas, many churches do not have designated and marked severe weather shelter locations within their facilities. In cases of a severe weather incidents, the church safety team facilitates the appropriate response (shelter in place, movement into a designated shelter area, etc.).
The tragic truth is that critical incidents such as mass shootings, homicides and robberies on church campuses has risen dramatically over the past two decades. Property crimes such as burglary and theft are also common. Recent changes to Texas law allows churches to form member volunteer Safety Teams. A well trained Safety Team serves as a deterrent to criminal activity during church activities and is the first line of defense against an active attacker or other criminal activity.