The crucial aspects of a disaster include three elements that are scope, intensity, and duration (Halpern & Vermeulen, 2017). Knowing what each means, helps churches determine how to prepare in the event of a disaster. Scope represents the number of people affected by a disaster. It can be as little as a small number of people are as large as a surrounding community (livingwaynetwork.org). This can also mean a region. Intensity represents how big of an impact the disaster has which can mean significant loss of life (livingwaynetwork.org). Duration represents how long the disaster lasts (livingwaynetwork.org). For example, a flood could last for a prolonged period of time and the aftermath and clean up can be for extended periods. It can also have a two-fold meaning in the length of time the disaster impacts the people it affects.
It is difficult to fathom that any church in the United States would need to have a disaster plan of action in the event of a violent event. Yet, we have seen from recent church shootings that even our churches are not safe any longer. Churches were once considered safe-havens. That all changed when violence erupted within them. Now churches are faced with implementing disaster plans to ensure the safety of their members.
Churches are now implementing disaster relief plans known as Incidence Command System (ICS) (christianemergencynetwork.org). This system is comprised of four components: incidence command, operations, planning, and logistics. Local, state, and federal government agencies all have an ICS in place in the event of a major disaster. Given the nature of how violence has become a reality within churches, it makes sense that they too now should have an ICS in place. The ICS enables churches to map out a plan of action that can be implemented immediately in the event of disaster.
It should be set up by the pastor and church administrative board. Once a plan is secured, it should be reviewed with the congregation in full. Training sessions should be offered to prepare church members for what to do in the event the worst happens. A prepared church is less likely to panic and will take action based on their training which could potentially save lives and minimize the impact of a violent disaster.