Medical supplies needed

When an active shooter comes into your church, most people think that the police, fire department, and ambulances will arrive in just a few seconds. That assumption would, in most instances, be wrong. Depending on which statistics you read, the arrival of police will take 8-10 minutes. Fire and ambulances will not arrive until the police have secured the church. Securing the church means removing, or neutralizing, the threat.

From the first day of training, firefighters and EMT’s are taught that the should not enter a situation (such as an active shooter) until the scene is safe. In their practical test for their license, they will fail to become an EMT if they do not ask “Is the scene is safe?”. While I hate to burst peoples bubble when it comes to response times, this means that the church will likely be on their own for 10-20 minutes. Of course, some of this will depend on how rural or urban the geographical area is, whether they rely on local law enforcement (city police) or county law enforcement, and how much funding is provided to law enforcement in that area. More funding typically means more officers are available to respond, while smaller budgets mean fewer officers are available to respond.

In order to be better prepared, the church should implement a medical response team, and keep supplies on hand. You could purchase one or more ready-made trauma bags (such as this) for your medical response team, or you could build your own. Most medically trained personnel should know what supplies are needed, however I have included this basic list to make it a little easier for you:

  • 10-12 pairs of Nitrile gloves
  • 1 pair of trauma shears
  • 1 pair of bandage scissors
  • 1 Stethoscope
  • 1 blood pressure cuff
  • 1 disposable penlight
  • 1 splinter forceps
  • 1 quick reading ear or forehead thermometer
  • 1-2 C-Collar, adjustable, adult size
  • 1-2 C-Collar, adjustable child size
  • 2-4 pair of safety goggles
  • 1-2 CPR  barrier devices
  • 1 Alcohol Hand Sanitizer
  • 60-80 Adhesive bandages
  • 10-15 butterfly bandages
  • 10 -15 2″x2″ gauze pads
  • 20-30 4″x4″ gauze pads
  • 5 -10 5 x 9 gauze dressings
  • 2 trauma dressings  (10″x30″)
  • 4-8 gauze rolls (3″ wide)
  • 4-6 triangular bandages
  • 2-4 elastic bandages (2″ wide)
  • 2-3 Mylar Survival Blanket
    1-4 rolls of 1″ wide plastic medical tape
  • 1-4 rolls of 2″ wide porous medical tape
  • 1-4 roll of 2″ wide cloth medical tape
  • 3-4 roll of self-adhesive Wrap (Coban)
  • 10-12 triple antibiotic ointments
  • 4-6 instant cold packs, large
  • 2 eyewash solutions, 4 oz.
  • 15 antiseptic wipes
  • 20 alcohol preps
  • 2 resealable plastic bags
  • 2-4 red bio-hazard bags
  • 2 Ink Pens
  • 2 permanent markers

Another item that you may want to consider in your house of worship is an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED).  Should someone have a heart attack, an AED combined with CPR may be the only hope of reviving someone before brain damage or permanent death happens. These can be a little pricey for smaller churches ($1,000-$2,500), but you have to ask yourself, what is a life worth? I am assuming that if you are in a church, you know where you are going when you die, but you don’t want to rush that process when you can provide a longer life. While the picture shows a Phillips brand, they are not the only brand available, so do some shopping before purchasing an AED. Some important considerations include battery life, maintenance requirements, and ease of use. You will also need to determine if you want to be prepared for an adult that may need this, or if you want to have the capability of helping a child as well.

Tomorrow, we will talk about other, (non-medical) supplies that you might want to have on hand. Until then, … Mark

Medical emergencies

Last week, I touched on the mitigation of medical emergencies. This is an important factor whether you someone is having a heart attack, or if an active shooter got past you defenses. Having a medical response team is an important part of being prepared, no matter what the emergency.

Nearly every church in the United States has some type of first responder that attends their church. I know in my small country church, with a weekly total of congregants of less than 60 per week, we have several first responders, or former first responders/medical staff. Even though two of them moved away (a CNA and a firefighter), we still have a former respiratory therapist (with ER experience), a nurse, and a former firefighter/EMT. We also have an EMT-I that occasionally attends. If needed, we also have multiple veterans from the Vietnam and Cold War era who have had some basic medical training. If you think about it, these veterans could be very helpful in the aftermath of an active shooter in church.

Every church should, at the very least, consider forming a medical response team. This team should be created not only to respond to active shooters, but nearly every type of emergencies. These are the members that will be able to stabilize someone that has fallen, to help someone that has suffered a stroke, and even do CPR, potentially saving their life.  They might be the one that might be able to save a child that was hit by a car, or the elderly person who has fallen down the stairs.

When looking for people within the congregation that might be suitable for an medical response team, there are a handful of individuals who would likely be willing to help in this capacity. They include:

  • Nurses
  • Medical doctors
  • EMT’s and Paramedics
  • DOT Medical first responder’s
  • Firefighter
  • Law enforcement officers
  • Former military medics
  • Anyone trained in medicine
  • People trained to American Red Cross first aid standards
  • People trained in CPR and AED’s
  • Trained veterans

There may also be others that are also trained in first aid who might be able to help in an emergency, such as Boys Scouts, Girl Scouts, work safety teams, and more. These people are already somewhat trained in what to do in a medical emergency. Because they already have the knowledge of what to do, why not utilize them to keep Gods flock healthy and safe.

Beyond responding to a medical emergency, this medical response team could also be used to  identify early medical problems. I know of several churches that use nurse volunteers to do blood pressure checks, and who give church goers advice on what to ask their doctor when they next visit them.

Tomorrow, I will discuss some basic tools and/or supplies that should be collected to help make the medical response team more effective. Until tomorrow, may God bless you, … Mark

First steps in planning to prevent an active shooter.

As I mentioned yesterday, preparedness is an important aspect of preventing an active shooter or bomber. It is also an important way to survive one. The shooter that has come into your church or business has prepared. They know EXACTLY what they are going to do, and how they will do it. The way to overcome their preparedness plans is to have plans of your own. In some instances, churches have done one or two things to addresses security, and then they forget about it. Throwing a plan together haphazardly can give you a false sense of security, so I encourage you to take your time and do it properly. This is why I am discussing the planning and preparedness aspect in such detail.

In order to create a plan, you should first create a Safety and Security Committee.  It is critical that you form a committee rather than use one or two people to plan for disasters and emergencies. When you use one or two people, you have a perspective from only one or two people rather, than 5 or more individuals. In most instances, using a mix of individuals will provide a 360 degree view of potential risks, vulnerabilities, mitigation measures, evaluating mitigation measure as well as other issues.

Think of it this way, if you only had a young able bodied person creating the plan, they may forget about elderly individuals and those with disabilities. If you use only older individuals, they may forget about children, or even the capabilities of young and middle age adults. Additionally, if only one or two people are responsible for all aspects of planning, they may miss something, while the likelihood of a group of people missing something is substantially less. In this instance, five (or more heads) are better than one.

When asking for, or appointing, committee members, try to get a good cross-section of individuals. Even if there is a large contingency of police officers in the congregation, you should never put more than one or two on this committee. Why? Because they will in most instances be led by their police training. Again, a cross-section gives you a 360 degree view from every aspect of your church (or business).

Once a committee is formed,  it is important to let everyone in your congregation know who these committee members are, and that they are available to listen to any concerns. Being available to listen to congregant concerns can be extremely helpful, and they may help guide the committee to identify other risks that the committee may have not thought of. The input of other congregants should at least be considered, but the committee is not required to take any other action, unless of course they think it is a viable risk.

In the initial meeting of the Safety and Security Committee, the members should choose the leadership of the committee. They should decide who should be appointed or elected as the committee leader, the alternate leader, and they should choose a secretary who will be required to keep good notes. After determining the leadership, then the committee will need to discuss the risks that the church may be vulnerable to. It is important to note that I did not say only the risk of an active shooter, but rather all risks.

For the Safety and Security of the congregants, every potential risk should be evaluated. This should include if the risk listed could happen to your specific church, and if it is possible, how it could affect the church. This holds especially true if the incident happened during a time when people will be in church. Disasters that should be considered might include:

  • Attacker(s) with knife, bat, etc.
  • Active Shooter(s)
  • Avalanche
  • Car Bombs
  • Dam Failure
  • Drought
  • Earthquake
  • Erosion
  • Expansive Soils
  • Extreme Cold
  • Extreme Heat
  • Flood
  • Hail
  • Hurricane
  • Landslide
  • Lightning strikes
  • Medical Emergencies
  • Sea Level Rise
  • Severe Winds
  • Severe Winter Weather
  • Storm Surge
  • Subsidence/Sink holes
  • Suicide Bomber(s)
  • Tornados
  • Tsunamis
  • Wildfires

This list is only a starting point. The list provided may not include everything that might affect your church. Upon briefly discussing the risks that might affect your church, you should adjourn the meeting to allow everyone time to think and contemplate on all the potential risks. When thinking about these risks, those on the committee should consider any risks that were missed, and which risks are most likely to occur in your specific situation.

Tomorrow, I will discuss the committees role in prioritizing these risks and how to come up with mitigation measures for your specific circumstance. Until then, may God keep you safe, … Mark