This topic is not discussed often, but churches should have some sort of safety team in place in case of an emergency. Recently, our Facebook group discussed this topic in a thread.
Mandy Buisson Holloway asked, “Does your church have a ‘1st responders team,’ and what are the laws for these teams?”
Here are some of the answers to that question:
“We have a safety team comprised of medics, nurses, doctors, off-duty police officers, and several who conceal carry. As for laws, you cannot call them security, at least in Texas. They must be trained and paid. We all respond in the ways we have been trained through our licensing.
For instance, medical personnel can respond under the Good Samaritan law until medics arrive on the scene. Those who carry do not respond unless there is an active shooter situation. We put together this team after the events in Sutherland Springs.
Our off-duty officers have not had to intervene with force, but we have had some enter our services who we know are unmedicated for severe mental illness. We try our best to surround them and observe.
In the event of a true situation, our safety team responds until on-duty personnel arrive.
Everyone who serves in a medical position or is a police officer is licensed/certified through their programs. We had our local PD come and do several weeks of training for our volunteers.
Those who conceal carry are not to respond unless asked by another member of the safety team.” – Krissi Bentz
“Yes, state law prevails. Every church should have a first response team trained for any emergency. Citizen responders are adequate if properly trained. There are a few good safety training programs for churches available. I happen to be a certified school safety specialist and have participated in church training. There is a huge overlap between schools and churches regarding safety.” – Tim Porter
“For medical issues, we have a nurse that is covered under our insurance and are in the process of adding a second. We have several volunteer firefighters and EMTs that attend our church also who have stepped in as first responders when the situation warranted.” – Katie Rose
“We have a ‘Safety’ team that walks the hallways and parking lot. Their main thing they do is really to help people find their way around, or help teachers if they need anything. They just have lanyards that say Safety. The medical team is really just a group of people who are firemen and EMTs that are just aware of where medical supplies and the AED are and have a game plan as to what to do.” – Clayton Welch
“Use your local emergency response agencies as a resource. Our local fire department was happy to come out and conduct training with our church’s ushers. They said they were glad to see us being so proactive and wish more churches would do the same.” – Nate Smith
“There are a few national agencies that conduct training/licensing of full-on security teams. Congregational Security Inc. Is the one I think of.” – Matt Howard
“I’ve helped set these up. For medical personnel, have people who are trained, even if it is just a Red Cross first aid course. Check the good Samaritan laws in your state.
As a large gathering place, I recommend each church invest in an automatic difibulator with a vocal computer. They are cheap and easy to use.
For security, that varies as well. There are two approaches: organized and ad hoc.
In an ad hoc scenario the church doesn’t stop people who want to carry from doing so. The church has no official stance.
In an organized scenario, you have to have a systemic approach. Radios are needed. I recommend getting earwicks because they aren’t as easily seen. Train the teams. Have drills. Get professional instructors.
Inform your insurance. There will certainly be liability issues with an armed force.
Remember, the best-concealed weapon is the one that is never seen nor drawn. Which ever approach you take be sure to tell people not to draw their weapon unless they intend to use it.” – Doug Triplett
“Our county in the Denver metro area put together a ‘safety in faith’ seminar. They put on informational events. For people who have attended and registered, they send out updates about local situations such as someone coming into a sanctuary and being disruptive, so other churches and their safety teams can be alerted.” – Michele Guthrie Bartlett
Churches should be prepared to handle emergency situations. It is often helpful to have a safety team dedicated to that end. The team should be comprised of individuals who are properly trained and certified rather than ordinary volunteers. Consider organizing a safety team at your church. You never know when an emergency situation will unfold.