No one expects an accident to occur in a place of worship. I sure didn’t. But one day, during service, a fellow member had a seizure, fell out of his chair and subsequently hit his head. Onlookers rushed to his aid and the paramedics arrived approximately 30 minutes later. Yet, by then, precious moments were lost in trying to figure out what to do – a situation that may have affected the outcome. This situation revealed to me that churches need a plan of action to manage possible in-house emergencies too.
Prepare your church
for an emergency:
1- Establish a safety team. This group can be volunteers or paid staff that gets certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other life-saving procedures. These individuals should obtain the skills to quickly address a fire, injury or physical threat from an unwanted guest.
2- Make first aid kits accessible. First aid kits should be in highly visible, marked areas that anyone can see. A portion of the church budget has to account for these items. In addition, a member of the safety team needs to be accountable for keeping them stocked with the appropriate supplies.
3- Schedule fire drills. Set up fire drills bi-annually. Unfortunately, fires are not uncommon in churches. (See: U.S. Fire Administration) As a result, congregants have to be informed on how to evacuate the building in this type of event and afterward where to go. These drills also present a perfect opportunity to point out the location of fire extinguishers and how to use them.
4- Do safety updates. In the announcements, regularly remind church attendees of safety rules. They can also be listed in the bulletin as well. These updates don’t have to be elaborate, just simple 1-minute statements that listeners can refer back to in case of an emergency.
5- Follow building codes. This last point is a no-brainer. Any church regardless of age or size should be up to code and maintained in a way that prevents falls and other types of mishaps. No one should sustain an injury because of a shabby building regardless of whether they gather there for worship or not.
So what became of the member who fell at my church? Unfortunately, he died a week later. His passing was a tragedy; a permanent reminder that even in the house of god accidents happen.
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