Identifying Risks

Identifying risks is an extremely important part of keeping your congregation safe.  Looking back to yesterday, I talked about letting the Safety and Security Committee contemplate what specific risks might affect your church and congregation.  As I like to say “How can you protect a congregation if you don’t know what might hurt them?” Today, we will discuss what to do with everyone’s thoughts on risk.

After some time to contemplate over what risks might affect your church, there should be another committee meeting. At that meeting, everyone should provide a list of what risks might affect the church. Everyone’s list should be compiled into a “master list” that documents every risk mentioned. After the Master list has been compiled, then there should be a discussion that rates every risk in numerical order based on the input of committee members. That order should be based on the likelihood that the risk identified will actually happen. The easiest way to do this is to list the first risk that is most probable of happening and come to a consensus. If a tornado is the most likely risk to happen, then it should be number one. If a medical emergency is the second most likely risk to happen, then it should be labelled number two, and so on. Once the risks are prioritized, then the committee can go on to figuring ways to mitigate the risks.

Mitigation measures are actions the committee can take to reduce the severity of the risk, or in totally making a risk non-existent.  As an example, a mitigation measure for a medical emergency may be to implement a church medical team. This could be nurses, doctors, EMT’s, and firefighters that attend the church, who can help stabilize any medical emergencies until more help arrives. The purchase of an AED may help mitigate the effects of a heart attack in the church, while a first aid kit may help mitigate the affects of someone bleeding. This is done by putting gauze on the wound and applying direct pressure. All of these are mitigation measures.

When it comes to ways to mitigate the risks, there are several methods that have proven successful. The first is forming several subcommittees and assign each of the subcommittees two risks that they will research and make recommendations. Research is an important part of mitigating these risks.

It is not hard to research mitigation measures. FEMA provides some basic mitigation measures, and just about any search engine will provide some good results if you type the name of the risk (tornado, flood, severe weather, etc.) and the words “mitigation techniques” or “mitigation strategies”. Additionally, you can talk with local public safety people and see if they might have suggestions, especially emergency managers. You can also call safety consulting companies and non-profits that specialize in church safety (such as Saving Lives and Souls, Warnick and Associates, and Sheepdog Seminars).

When coming up with mitigation measures, three things are commonly forgotten about:

  • Considerations for disabled and elderly
  • Considerations for children
  • The need to train the entire church

Failure to address these issues will bring about an incomplete mitigation plan. This incomplete plan will put some or all of your congregation at risk. Every effort should be made to identify all types of mitigation possible, including new and fresh ideas.

Tomorrow, I will discuss how to determine what mitigation measures the church should adapt, long-term goals to adapt others, and which mitigation measures should be scrapped. As always, stay safe and may God bless you, … Mark