Creating a Safety Team for Your Place of Worship
Providing an open but safe environment for visitors
Safety teams can be the difference between a disaster and an emergency that is handled efficiently and effectively. Whether you already have a safety team for your place of worship, or you need assistance with organizing one, these best practices can help keep the open and welcoming atmosphere that you have worked so hard to establish.
- To start a safety team or recruit more involvement, consider asking current volunteers if they are interested in holding a position on your safety team. Many times, people that already volunteer are willing to volunteer a little more. It is essential to rotate team members so that burn out does not happen. Remember, your safety team members are interested in sitting in services as well.
- An effective safety team should be a compilation of individuals who are willing and able to assist in times of emergency in accordance with their age, capabilities and expertise. Teenagers may not be the best candidate as a safety team member. However, a young adult or someone with military or law enforcement training could be a valuable asset. Your team members should be passionate about their position and take it very seriously.
- It is important to have a common goal of added security for your place of worship. At your first meeting, your goal of the team should be discussed and agreed upon. Your small yet concise team should know their role in adding to the safety of your religious center. Whether it be someone who patrols the parking lot before your congregation starts arriving, or someone who stands at the doors to your place of worship, everyone should know their individual role and how it adds to the whole of the team.
- Hold meetings at a minimum of once a month to discuss items of business that are meeting expectations, and items that need addressing and more attention. Listen to the input that your safety team gives. Work together to plan for the unexpected and make sure that team members are on the same page. Each member should know exactly what to do for various emergencies that may arise, including staging areas.
- Invite your local first responders to at least one of your safety team meetings in which you discuss evacuation plans, where important information is located, your emergency plans for fires, active shooters, etc. This not only helps the first responders get a better idea of your plans, but they may have tips on how you can add even more safety and security to the existing plans. First responders can give insight that may have been overlooked, or they may show how a plan may be more effective.
You have worked hard to provide a calm and peaceful environment for your congregation to worship, by adding the presence of a safety team, you are ensuring that when an emergency happens you are prepared to keep everyone as safe as possible with evacuation plans and security measures.