Whether you are starting a new safety or security ministry at your church or have a well-established safety team one of the questions we frequently ask is “What is the risk?” What are the incidents most likely to take place at our church? What incidents do we spend most of our time training to respond too? What are our training objectives? Why? How do we create a training plan for our team?
We need to understand the different types of incidents which may occur at our ministries. There are many ways we can categorize them, but to begin with we are going to examine the frequency of different events.
When we examine incidents in our houses of worship among the most frequent will be medical emergencies. Our children and youth may be injured on the playground, experience an allergic reaction, or experience medical emergencies resulting from diabetes, asthma, and other conditions. Slips, trips, falls, and other accidents may impact congregants of all ages. Senior adults may suffer cardiac events, strokes, falls, or other medical emergencies. We must be prepared for these frequent medical emergencies when they arise. The frequent nature of these emergencies certainly places them in the category of high frequency incidents.
Other high frequency incidents we will likely encounter will include theft, vandalism, suspicious activity, trespassing, disturbances, and other offenses. These offenses usually do not occur as often as medical emergencies. Thefts may involve a variety of property from relatively minor thefts of small objects to thefts of vehicles, audio & video equipment, and other technology.
What about domestic violence, interpersonal conflict, child abductions, robbery, active shooters, and other potential violence? We must be prepared for these types of incidents, but at the same time recognize they will not occur at the same frequency as medical, property, or minor disturbances. These low frequency events require a different level of response, training, and mitigation strategies.
When we create plans, policies, and procedures for our safety / security ministries we need to consider not only the different types of incidents which may occur, but the potential frequency of the incidents. A common error made in planning for incidents is to focus on low frequency incidents, since they are the ones most people are fearful of experiencing. While this preparation is important it should not come at the expense of ignoring or failing to prepare for the higher frequency incidents.
While we recognize there are many risks churches must be prepared to address, the frequency of potential incidents can help us to prioritize our preparation and planning efforts. We cannot ever predict with certainty what incidents we may encounter. However, examining the frequency of events can guide us as we prepare for those we are more likely to encounter while also having contingencies in place for low frequency incidents.