In instances where your church has been the victim of an active shooter or bomber, it is important to remember that key individuals may have been injured or killed. Without these individuals in place, it may lead to gaps in the operations of the church, when it is needed most. In a government setting, this would be referred to as a gap in continuity of operations.
Continuity of operations refers to the ability of the church to carry on with it’s primary mission. After a shooting or bombing, the primary mission will likely be to spiritually and emotionally care for those that were affected by this shooting, including family members and the victims themselves.
One of the key factors to address the barrage of issues is to take inventory of who is missing, deceased, and/or incapacitated from fulfilling their duties. This is done through:
- Identifying and filling any critical personnel gaps
- Identify operational gaps (e.g. comforting, counselling, )
- Identifying Public Information Officer (PIO) gaps
- Identifying gaps in caregiver groups and/or volunteers
Many different issues will need to be dealt with in the aftermath of an active shooter or bombing in a church. In order to respond to the work ahead, you will need to make sure that there are enough resources to deal with parishioners, their family members, and the media, just to name a few.
If you find that your church resources may be overwhelmed, you may need to reach out to:
- Denomination headquarters
- Other local clergy members
- Other local churches
- Local schools
- Local county health organizations
- Local advocacy groups
- Professional media spokesperson
No matter what, it is important to realize that this is a very hectic and ominous time. There is no shame in asking for help! In a perfect world, we would pre-arrange whatever help might be needed in advance, and pre-load these numbers in our phones and document those numbers in our paperwork that helps us to take roll call. If we fail to do this in advance of an incident, we will need to fly by the seat of our pants, and make judgments on who should be called while under duress. In my opinion, it is always better to prepare and not need it, rather than need something and not be able to figure out what to do.
We need to remember that many hands make light work. We also need to remember that everyone that was present during this heinous act will need time to process everything. This extra help, will help those present at the incident to focus on themselves rather than focusing on others, and then later having a break-down.
We will continue this short series tomorrow. Until then, mull over a list of individuals that you may need to reach out to, should something like this happen in your church, … Mark