Do you know how quickly your worship centre or workplace could return to normal after a catastrophic event? Are you well-prepared for a variety of events that, if they occurred, could seriously impact on the health and safety of people and / or on the protection of assets?
In an emergency situation there can be a lot to consider in a very short space of time. The more prepared your organisation is, the better it will be able to respond quickly and appropriately to the particular emergency situation at hand.
This of course makes good emergency planning essential. An organisation’s emergency plan needs to allow for a range of scenarios rather than being a one-size generic response list, as how you respond in a given situation will depend on the type of disaster that occurs – whether ‘natural’ such as bushfire, freak storm or medical emergency, or more ‘man-made’ such as explosion, bomb threat, asbestos exposure, robbery or arson.
Emergency plan considerations
Roles and responsibilities –
This includes designating who will be responsible for:
- Declaring an emergency and sounding the alarm.
- Ordering and managing an evacuation.
- Assisting people with a disability to evacuate safely.
- Ensuring the building is completely empty.
- Administering First Aid if required.
- Using fire equipment if necessary.
- Communicating with emergency personnel, authorities and neighbouring properties.
- Closing off utilities.
- Managing threatening situations.
Practical and preventative actions –
This needs to involve such things as:
- Determining safe areas and evacuation routes.
- Providing shelter and supplies if necessary.
- Protection of vital records.
- Ensuring insurance cover is in place.
- Regular drills and testing of various disaster scenarios.
- Keeping emergency contacts up-to-date.
- Training of personnel in church fire safety and First Aid.
- Regular church risk assessment and management.
- Ensuring essential safety measures are implemented and maintained.
Emergency planning is only one step of the process though – you also need to consider what will happen next. In some situations life may quickly return to normal while in others it may be disrupted due to property damage, serious injuries, and interruption to normal church services and workplace activities for some time. This is where good recovery planning becomes as important as any evacuation plan.
Recovery planning after a disaster needs to consider:
- Maintaining site safety and security.
- Salvaging of contents and safe removal of debris if required.
- Calling in contractors to repair any damage.
- Finding an alternative premises if needed.
- Assisting injured employees to recover and get back to work.
- Providing trauma counselling.
- Lodging insurance claims.
- Reviewing your emergency plan and making adjustments to it as required.
And generally – just getting back to normal operations!
However, imagine that your church and / or workplace is not able to function for several weeks due to a catastrophe. Have you considered how it will continue to provide services and pay staff and other costs in the meantime? This is referred to as ‘consequential loss’ or ‘business interruption’ and can be devastating for an organisation that isn’t covered by insurance for this type of situation. In fact in some cases businesses have had to close up completely following a disaster, simply because they were not able to generate income but still had to continue paying rent, staff and suppliers, while often also incurring extra costs such as repairs and lease of alternative premises!
Faith Insurance’s Industrial Risk Policy fortunately provides financial cover for such things as revenue (including rents, offerings, grants and donations), payroll, utilities, alternative premises rental and several others. You can find out more by contacting our office by email, or by calling 13 000 FAITH.
What to do next
- Develop a comprehensive and detailed emergency plan for your organisation. Make sure to review your plan regularly and keep it current.
- Develop a disaster recovery plan so you know what actions you need to take after a disaster.
- Make sure your insurance cover is adequate and up-to-date.
Where to go for more information:
Faith Insurance articles:
Online Safe Ministry training modules (free for FI clients)
Written by Tess OliverTags: emergency, fire, risk management