Faith-Based Organizations

Emergency Planning for Faith-Based Organizations

Faith-based venues and organizations provide a place for people to congregate, worship, and bond as a community. However, these organizations are not immune to the threat of an emergency or disaster. Using the resources provided, any faith-based organization can ensure that they are better prepared for disasters, as well as able to assist in the recovery from a disaster or emergency.

An Emergency Action Plan (EAP) will help guide your organization through the difficult time that can come following a disaster or emergency situation. By assessing your vulnerability in Step 1, you should already know what sorts of hazards are more likely to affect your organization. By creating an Emergency Action Plan, your organization will have a guide to navigate the tumultuous time that follows an emergency.

Note: Your organization could have standardized plans and requirements. Be sure to check with headquarters or leadership to determine if there is a standardized policy or template for your emergency plans.

Emergency Action Plan

Red Cross Ready Rating Emergency Action Plan Template

Earlier in this process you conducted the Red Cross Ready Rating ReadyAdvance Assessment to determine your current level of preparedness within your organization. The Ready Rating program also has a template that exceeds the requirements for an OSHA 29 CFR 1910.38 complaint Emergency Action Plan (EAP). Using your organization's Ready Rating account, you can visit their website and add and remove individual sections as needed and export into a Word file. You may also access a copy of the entire template that has been updated by the City of Nashua..

The Emergency Action Plan is organized into four sections:

    1. Alerting and Notification
    2. Evacuation and Sheltering
    3. Rendering Assistance
    4. Appendices

These sections incorporate all six core elements of an OSHA compliant Emergency Action Plan:

    1. A means of reporting fires and other emergencies,
    2. Evacuation procedures and emergency escape route assignments,
    3. Procedures for employees who are responsible for the orderly shutdown of critical functions before they evacuate the work area,
    4. A way to account for the location of all employees, visitors, and contractors after an emergency evacuation has been completed
    5. Guidelines covering rescue and Medical Duties for employees who may be asked to perform these actions during the emergency,
    6. The names or job titles of persons who can be contacted for more details.

*Please tote that this template has includes revised terminology and procedures that are consistent with Nashua and national standards.

City of Nashua Emergency Planning Functional Annexes

The City of Nashua has developed standardized appendices for your emergency action plan for each of the standardized 7 Response Actions. The 7 Response Actions provide simple actions that individuals within your facility can take to place themselves into a safe situation during the initial moments of an emergency. Using one or more of these actions during the initial moments of an emergency will handle 99% of the hazards your organization will ever encounter.

An example of how the 7 Response Actions can be used:

  • A large amount of police activity up the street from your facility prompts concern from your congregation
  • Your facility activates the "Secure Campus" response action, swiftly locking exterior doors, closing exterior window shades, maintaining additional vigilance of activities taking place outside your building, and tuning in to local media and emergency officials for updates.
  • This move reduces the concern of building occupants by limiting the possibility of a threat from entering the building, enables all interior activities to continue as normal while providing your Emergency Response Team with time to organize and establish an Incident Command Post if necessary.
  • From here the Emergency Response Team would leverage their Emergency Action Plan and provide additional direction to building occupants as needed.

These annexes are meant to be added to your Emergency Action Plan as appendices. A large portion of your staff training program should incorporate the 7 Response Actions and practicing these actions through regular drills. Click the any response action below to view the response appendix. You can also access a folder containing all the 7 Response Annexes here.

**The City has adopted the Avoid, Deny, Defend model to respond to an active threat/active shooter. Find more information about A.D.D. here. This response action expands the Lockdown concept to include avoiding the threat and defending yourself if necessary. You may have seen this method called "Run, Hide, Fight" or "A.L.I.C.E".

In addition to the 7 Response Action Annexes, the City has developed template annexes for three main functions which may be necessary during an emergency. Template Annexes have been developed for Communications, Transportation, and Reunification. Some or all of these templates may be applicable to your organization. In addition, there may be additional annexes that you will want to add to your emergency action plan other responsibilities within your Emergency Response Team (security, food services, logistics, etc). Your organization can customize and edit the annexes to fit your specific needs. Click here to access a folder containing the Communications, Transportation, and Reunification Annexes.

The procedures you identify during in your Emergency Action Plan can be utilized in the NH Department of Labor Safety Summary Form within the question that asks for emergency response procedures utilized within your organization.

Remember: This Emergency Action Plan focuses on the actions your organization will take to protect lives, prevent injuries, and reduce further damage and losses to your property or building. The Continuity of Operations Plan that will be discussed in Step 3: Maintaining Operations and Services will focus on how your organization will maintain or restore normal services during and immediately following emergency conditions.

Additional Resources

Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC)

The Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) consists of stakeholders from businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies throughout the region, collaborating together to improve their ability to prepare for and respond to disasters. Each meeting incorporates a short training or presentation on an emergency planning topic to provide attendees with resources to make their organization more resilient the threats and hazards possible in Nashua. The meetings also serve as a good opportunity to bring emergency planning concerns to government officials and to network with other community organizations. Many faith-based organizations participate in the Local Emergency Planning Committee and serve in the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. Learn about how you can join the LEPC and integrate with the City's emergency planning efforts here.

Guide to Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship

FEMA has developed the Guide to Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship to provide houses of worship with information regarding emergency operations planning for the spectrum of threats and hazards they may face. It discusses actions that may be taken before, during, and after an incident in order to reduce the impact on property and any loss of life, and it encourages every house of worship to develop a plan. We recommend focusing on the seven response actions described above prior to expanding into the additional emergency planning areas described in this guide.

New Hampshire Houses of Worship Resource List

The US Department of Homeland Security in conjunction with the NH Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management have developed a resource list of helpful links for faith-based organizations undertaking an emergency planning effort.