To test, … or not to test?

I thought about many different titles for today’s post, but feared that many of you would not read this post thinking it was a test blog post.  Considering I am talking about testing, that would be very possible. I thought about “Testing” and “Test, Test”, I even thought about titling this post “Test, 123, Test, 123”. While it may seem silly, there is a major reason to push testing of a church safety team.

If you have been reading my blogs, you may have already identified the risk, recognized any vulnerabilities, created a church safety plan, and implemented policies and procedures. You might have even created a viable church safety plan, but your work is still not finished (by far).  Over the next few days, I will be sharing information that will strengthen your church security even more. Today I will start with the basics.

In emergency management, we use a process known as the Preparedness Cycle to ensure that we are better prepared. The preparedness cycle, in its simplest form takes the plan (that you built) and tests it for flaws, then corrects any flaws. While it seems simple, my explanation is an oversimplification of what needs the preparedness cycle really is. The graphic below provides a basic idea of how this continuous cycle works, and I want to give credit for the graphic to FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

The preparedness cycle starts with creating a written plan. Once the plan is completed, then the church should organize for the implementation of the plan. This includes policies and procedures and creating the church safety team. The trustees, or whomever is responsible for purchasing should gather the needed equipment. This can be anything from security clothing, medical supplies, security cameras, electromagnetic door locks, or a whole host of other equipment. When that equipment is in place, then the safety team should train. That training should focus on what they should do in a variety of situations, as well as how to use any equipment that may require training (e.g. security camera’s, electromagnetic locks, and other equipment). If the plan calls for purchasing equipment over time, then you may consider training each time a new piece of equipment is installed. Once all of this is done, then it is time to hold an exercise (a test run) to test everything in place. After completing the exercise, then it is time to pick apart what went right, and what went wrong. You then start the planning process over again by taking corrective action to address what went wrong.

As I mentioned previously, over the next few days I will get more in-depth about this process. I will discuss how often this should be done, and even how it should be done. Preventing death and destruction in your church will be more than planning it once and forgetting about it. It is a continuous process, but if it saves lives, it is well worth it … Mark