Make a Plan: Be Prepared for Emergencies
Do you, your congregation and your church have emergency preparedness plans? Most churches, and probably most individuals, are not adequately prepared for a major emergency. These events can come in many forms: fires, floods, earthquakes, active shooters, bomb threats. It’s impossible to plan for everything, but having a general plan in place can help ease your church through a crisis and avoid catastrophe. But what should the plan include? How should it be put together? Who should be involved?
Available Emergency Planning Resources
Both the ELCA and LCMS are participants in the Inter-Lutheran Emergency Response Team (I-LERT). I-LERT (i-lert.org) is a network based within the Lutheran community of Southern California, serving as a central hub from which information and training on disaster preparedness is circulated, and through which resources can be directed to individuals, families, and churches in an emergency. Its members include representatives from PSD, Pacifica and Southwest California Synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, and Lutheran Social Services. The PSD’s Director of Disaster Response is Rev. Rick Stark.
Valuable resources are available to help you plan and prepare for an emergency:
Help your congregation create a plan with the ELCA’s Congregational Disaster Preparedness Guidebook.
Preparedness Resources including links, checklists and training from i-lert.org.
May’s monthly training topic, “Building Safety in a Disaster”.
Emergency Response Coordination
The mission of I-LERT is to equip Lutheran congregations and entities to prepare for and respond in the event of a disaster by cooperating and coordinating with other disaster entities; communicating about the availability of resources, training, and support; and communicating with Lutheran congregations and entities in the event of a disaster so that resources and actions are not duplicated. I-LERT does not provide a direct response to an event.
LCMS Disaster Relief is a source of funds and volunteers to help with the aftermath of emergencies. As part of this effort, the Lutheran Early Response Team (LERT) is a group of individuals trained to assist in cleanup efforts. This training is available through the district.
All counties in California have a VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster) group consisting of varied volunteer organizations which offer disaster assistance in various forms. Examples of organizations which participate are Red Cross, Salvation Army, radio groups, church organizations, Team Rubicon, I-LERT and governmental emergency coordinators. The purpose of VOADs is to disseminate information on available services and coordinate response to prevent duplication.
We are currently in need of volunteers to serve on the I-LERT committee or attend VOAD meetings in their county (especially Los Angeles and Ventura). A broad base will ensure our access to a variety of programs and services, and connectivity with Lutherans throughout our service area.
For further information contact:
Rev. Rick Stark
Director of Disaster Response
Ron Herman, RN
Health Ministry Representative