An online preparedness guide and consulting for church leaders. 

Emergency Operations Center (EOC)

The EOC is a location from which centralized management of an emergency response is performed. This “location” is possibly a virtual office whereby each member communicates via electronic platforms, such as Skype, Facebook, or other online avenues. Depending on the scope of the event, and the effect on telecommunications, it may be necessary for the group to meet in person.

As an example, CEN’s National Response Team operates primarily via virtual meetings. However, we do have plans and a pre-determined location for the team to meet in person as best as possible in case of wide-scale disaster. There are instances where some members of the Emergency Response Team will not be available for in-person responses. In these instances, some of our Emergency Response Team members are cross-trained to be able to fulfill the roles and responsibilities of the unavailable team member, or that individual communicates by electronic means if possible.

The key to operating an Emergency Response Team in an Emergency Operations Center is to remain flexible. The goal is to respond to the crisis or disaster in the most efficient and effective way possible that addresses the needs raised by the crisis/disaster and returns the affected communities back to pre- disaster conditions as quickly as possible.

The EOC provides a central location where strategic management of an incident is accomplished and support for people who are responding is provided. Some of the activities that are done by the EOC Emergency Response Team are:

  • Support for people responding
  • Receiving and disseminating warning information to ReadyChurch and/or ReadyCity
  • Developing strategic plans, policies and procedures for a more efficient response
  • Collecting and collating raw information regarding the incident
  • Preparing and providing finished incident reports
  • Maintaining strategic status boards and situation reports
  • Maintaining a liaison with local emergency responders, the National Emergency Response Team and other ReadyChurch/ReadyCity groups
  • Issuing press releases; conducting media briefings

The Emergency Response Team that the ReadyChurch or ReadyCity sets up will serve as the EOC during a small-scale activation. If there is a larger emergency, an alternate location will be assigned that is better suited to handle the people necessary to manage a large-scale emergency.

CEN has provided a “Sample Emergency Operations Center Manual” for you to use when developing your ReadyChurch plans. This is provided in the download material.


The Emergency Response Plan

Once a church has evaluated their capacity, made plans to continue their ministry operations in a crisis and created an emergency operations plan for their congregation, the next readiness step is to develop what is known as an Emergency Response Plan. Although similar to the Emergency Operations Plan, this plan details how the ReadyChurch will respond to the needs that arise from a crisis or disaster.

The first step in developing a response plan is to determine how you want your church to respond. Sample/suggested preparedness levels to work towards attaining are included in the downloadable material.

Once the desired preparedness level is decided, then the church can start taking steps to developing those preparedness levels. Further training will likely be required. By the time you reach this step in the ReadyChurch process, a lot of the background information should already be collected.

Using the information you’ve already collected, determine the level of response you would like your ReadyChurch to provide to the community in a given incident. Then begin the specific training needed to become ready to respond in that capacity. Once you have received the training, you can write into an Emergency Response Plan the steps that will be taken to respond to an incident in the way that your ReadyChurch has chosen.

ReadyChurch Suggested/Sample Ready

Preparedness Focus Areas

Our church is designated as a:

  • Shelter
  • Mass feeding shelter
  • Emergency support site
  • Evacuation transfer site
  • Medical or repository site
  • Temporary FBI site
  • Communications center

Identify existing services, and those you desire to provide.

  • Case management
  • Making phone calls
  • Serving food
  • Preparing food
  • Survivor information services
  • Distributing supplies
  • Operating transportation services
  • Medical aid services
  • Crisis Counseling
  • Training (please specify)
  • Child care
  • Special needs care
  • Pet care
  • Chaplaincy
  • Hosting first responders
  • Aftercare (death)
  • Other: (please specify)

Volunteer service areas you provide, or ones you desire to develop.

  • Trained or experienced volunteers:
    • Medical or first aid
    • Physicians
    • EMT
    • RN
    • LPN
  • Safety
  • Security (uniformed or non)
  • Fire
  • Police
  • C.E.R.T
  • H.U.R.T
  • NIMS
  • Citizen Corps
  • Government or community influencers
  • Crisis counselor access
  • Heavy equipment usage and repair
  • Construction
  • Transportation
  • Traffic management
  • Crowd management
  • Facility clean-up
  • Child care
  • Senior care
  • Special needs care
  • Financial counsel
  • Legal counsel
  • Business counsel including hiring and firing
  • Data protection
  • Church usage
  • Insurance and liability counsel
  • Maintenance
  • Property inspections
  • Media and communications
  • Ham radio
  • Interpreters (languages)
  • Mental health professionals
  • Case management
  • Technology
  • Vehicle safety
  • Trip safety
  • Debris removal
  • Chaplaincy
  • Church-wide emergency communication system
  • Denominational disaster relief team access
  • Prayer leadership
  • Citywide emergency services
  • Citywide government
  • Disaster response
  • Donation management
  • Blood drives
  • Food service
  • Personnel management
  • Shelter operations
  • Supply procurement and distribution
  • Volunteer management
  • Warehousing
  • Emergency management services
  • Air transport

Equipment available or desire to obtain:

  • Busses - # of busses, max capacities
  • Office space – # of individual workspaces
  • Generators - # and wattage
  • Tractors – full size
  • Computers
  • Cell phones
  • Satellite phones
  • Trailer
  • Camper/RV
  • Motorcycle
  • Mini-van
  • Forklift
  • Maxi Van 15+
  • Box Truck 24’
  • ATV
  • Cars
  • Aircraft
  • Tents
  • Wheel chairs
  • Boat with trailer
  • Beds/cots
  • Microwaves
  • Heaters
  • Blankets
  • Dining tables
  • Refrigerators
  • Clothing
  • Food stored
  • Portable toilets
  • Plastic covered security ID badges
  • Disaster plans on and off-site secure location
  • Church logo or identifiable t-shirts

Recommendations for Local Church Emergency Operations Plan

This document is intended for use as a template for local church leaders in developing a site-specific plan for church property. Every church will have different needs, so please adapt these recommendations to fit the needs of your particular site. For instance, smaller churches may not be able to form a full emergency response team; however, church leaders may be designated to serve in particular functions. Once procedures have been established, it is important that they be relayed to church members and emphasized as often as possible (e.g. church-wide meetings, trainings, drills).


For All Emergencies Dial 911


Building Coordinator Incident Commander

Medical Response Team Members Emergency Response Team Members


Leader Responsibilities Medical Emergency

Fire and Smoke Emergencies

If the Fire Warning Alarm Sounds Building Evacuation Emergency

If a Building Evacuation is Initiated Weather Emergency

If a Tornado Warning is Announced Strong Storm Safety Basics


Threat Checklist


Emergency Evacuation Maps Injury/Incident Report Building Emergency Systems Conducting a Hazard Analysis Hazard Analysis Worksheet


For All Emergencies Dial 9-1-1—If your community is not served by 9-1-1, call your local emergency contact number.

Write number here if not 9-1-1:  

Treat minor injuries from supplies in the first aid kits.

The kits are located (provide location here:


Building Maintenance/Trustees: (Identify appropriate contact person here)

Call this number to report unsafe conditions. Also, to report problems with:

  • Leaks and drainage.
  • Building temperature.
  • Lighting.
  • Building conveniences.


Church office:   

Call this number for appointments or other business.

  • Non-emergency assistance.
  • Reporting lost ID or valuables.

Where applicable (refer to following section):

Building Coordinator:   

Incident Coordinator:   

Medical Response Team Members:   

Emergency Response Team Members:   


Leader Responsibilities

In the event of an emergency, leader responsibilities may include the following:

  • Knowing how to correctly respond to and summon help for a medical emergency.
  • Knowing how to correctly report a fire or smoke emergency using the 911 emergency number.
  • Knowing the locations of the manual fire alarm pull stations in their area.
  • Knowing the locations of the fire extinguishers in their area and how to use them.
  • Knowing how to correctly respond to a fire warning alarm.
  • Knowing designated shelter areas and precautions to take in the event of a tornado emergency.
  • Becoming familiar with exit routes and knowing alternate exits to correctly respond to a call for an evacuation.
  • Closing all opened doors as they evacuate an area.

Medical Emergency

Call 911. Be prepared to give the following information:

  • Name and extension.
  • Location.
  • Number of people involved.
  • Nature of injury or illness.

Note: Treat minor injuries from supplies in the first aid kits. The kits are located (provide location here:  ).

While waiting for professional help do not move the ill or injured person. When professional help arrives:

  • Allow responding units to take control of situation.
  • Emergency response team members will stand by to assist as needed

Regular CPR/First Aid training is recommended for all church leaders, especially pre-school and Sunday School teachers.

Fire and Smoke Emergencies

If you detect smoke:

  • Call 911.
  • Give your name, telephone number, and location within the building.
  • Describe the situation.
  • Advise the building coordinator, incident coordinator, or other emergency response team members of the situation.

If you detect fire:

  • Activate the manual fire alarm
  • Call 911 (move to a safe area before making this call).
  • Give your name, telephone number, and location.
  • Describe the situation.
  • If you know how to use a fire extinguisher and feel the best course of action is to attempt to extinguish the fire, locate an extinguisher and, without risking injury attempt to extinguish the fire.
  • If the fire is beyond the point of a safe attempt to extinguish it, isolate the fire by closing doors in the area before evacuating.
  • Advise the incident coordinator or other emergency response team members of the situation.

If the Fire Warning Alarm Sounds

  • Do not use the elevator.
  • Evacuate immediately, using the nearest exit. Walk quickly. Do not run.

Note: Evacuation should be toward ground level. If you encounter smoke or heat in a stairwell, proceed across that floor to another stairwell and continue evacuation to ground level.

  • Assist disabled persons in your area.
  • If you encounter smoke, take short breaths through your nose and crawl along the floor to the nearest exit.
  • Feel all doors with your hand before opening. If the door is hot, do not open it. If the door is cool, open it slowly, keeping behind the door in case you have to quickly close it to protect yourself from oncoming smoke or fire.
  • Proceed to the ground level and outdoors.
  • Move upwind of the building at least 75 feet away from the building and beyond designated fire lanes. Go to your designated assembly area (if possible).
  • Do not go to your automobile or attempt to move it from the parking lot. This could hinder access by emergency vehicles.
  • Do not congregate near building exits, driveways, or roadways.
  • Do not reenter the building until an “all clear” is issued by the incident coordinator. (Note: The “all clear” should be initially issued by the Fire Department.)

Building Evacuation Emergency

All leaders should know the emergency evacuation routes and procedures for the building, and their designated assembly area outside the building. Memorize the exit route closest to your work area or office.

The designated assembly area is located (provide location here).

Should the designated assembly area be deemed unsafe, an alternate assembly area will be located (provide location here).

If a Building Evacuation is Initiated Important “dos” and “don’ts” are:

  • DO remain calm.
  • DO follow the instructions of the incident coordinator or emergency response team, if applicable.
  • DO close the door as you leave if you occupy an enclosed office.
  • DO Use stairwells (do not use elevator) for evacuation. Be alert for other staff, church members, and emergency agency personnel who might also be using the stairwells.
  • DO NOT return for coats, purses, briefcases, etc, after you have left the area.
  • DO NOT smoke.
  • DO NOT return to your area until the “all clear” signal is given.

Notes: Ensure that (identify appropriate leader here: ) has planned with disabled leaders or church members a procedure to assist each disabled person in evacuating. Emergency evacuation procedures should be provided to all church members (e.g. in member orientations).

Weather Emergency

The National Weather Service has developed a method of identifying storm conditions that foster the development of tornadoes. The classification and definitions of storm conditions are:

  • Storm Watch
  • Storm Warning

A “storm watch” status indicates that weather conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather. The “watch areas” are usually large geographic areas, covering many counties or even states that could be affected by severe weather conditions including tornadoes.

A “storm warning” is an alert issued by the National Weather Service after a severe storm has been detected by radar or sighted by weather watchers or by the public. The National Weather Service provides the approximate time

of detection, the location of the storm and the direction of movement. A tornado can move from 25 to 40 miles per hour so prompt emergency action must be taken.

During a storm warning, a battery-powered radio should be tuned to the National Weather Service and local weather watchers radio frequency. Should a tornado develop which threatens our area, emergency response team members should initiate actions to notify and protect all staff and church members in the facility.

If a Tornado Warning is Announced

When you hear the announcement for a tornado warning:

  • Move to a designated tornado shelter immediately. Move quickly, but do not run.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • Assist disabled personnel in your area.
  • Wait in the shelter until you hear an announcement from a member of the emergency response team and/or a hand-held radio system station (if applicable) that it is safe to return to your area.

Strong Storm Safety Basics

Tornadoes and tornado-producing weather conditions are common in the Central Texas Conference area. Familiarize yourself with the basics of protecting yourself wherever you may be.

If you are indoors, the general responses to a tornado warning are:

  • Move away from windows. If you have time, close any window blinds or shades to help prevent flying glass and debris—the cause of most injuries in office buildings.
  • Warn others. Encourage them to get to safety immediately.
  • Move away from large expanses of unsupported ceilings.
  • Move away from building perimeter area.
  • Move to an interior room away from windows—to an enclosed room or conference room, a rest room, an interior stairwell.
  • If in an interior hallway, away from windows, crouch down as low as possible.
  • If you are in an elevator, stop and get off at the next floor and take cover in an interior hallway or interior room. Do not use elevators during tornado warnings.
  • If moving to a safer location in the building is not possible, get under a desk or table in an interior office.
  • Once you’ve situated yourself in the safest place you can find, protect your face and head, and stay where you are until an “all clear” signal is given. (If circumstances change and new dangers are present, seek a different safe place.)

If you are outdoors, the general responses to a tornado warning are:

  • If at all possible, move indoors to an interior room.
  • If moving indoors is not possible, take cover near objects that are low and securely anchored to the ground, such as culverts or low retaining wall.

Basic safety information specifically related to other disasters likely to occur in your area may be included here (i.e. flooding, hazardous material spills, etc.).


In the event you receive a threat call (i.e. bomb threat, armed assault, custody issues), remain calm; if possible, have a pre-arranged signal to alert other personnel to listen to the caller also. If possible, advise the caller that the detonation of a bomb could maim or injure innocent people.

Threat Checklist

Complete this list if you receive a threat.

Exact time of call: Date:   

Exact words of caller:

Caller’s voice: (circle)


Male Female Adult




Estimate Age:   


Black White Hispanic




Calm Disguised Nasal




Nervous Angry Sincere




Excited Giggling Stressed



If voice is familiar, whose did it sound like?   

Background Noise: (circle)

Music Children Typing Airplanes Machinery Cars/Trucks Other:

Do not hang up! Obtain as much information as possible:

  • When is the bomb going to explode?  
  • Where is the bomb?  
  • What does it look like?  
  • What kind of bomb is it?  
  • Method of activation: mechanical, clock, movement/chemical action?
  • Method of deactivation?  
  • Did you place the bomb?  
  • Why?  
  • Where are you calling from?  
  • What is your address?  
  • What is your name?   

Call received by:   

Department:    Ext:   

Note: In the event you receive a bomb threat:

  • Call 911 immediately. Provide the following information:
    • Identify yourself
    • State: “I have received a bomb threat.”
    • Give your office location and extension.




Insert maps here.


The following form is a sample that may be helpful should an injury occur during an evacuation or other emergency procedure. It is important to maintain accurate records of any injuries incurred during an emergency in case of insurance or liability questions.


Injured Person:                                                               Completed by:    

Where were you when injury occurred:  

Description of injury and how it occurred: (Use back if more space is needed)


Action Taken/Medical Treatment Provided:


This appendix may include information about the location of emergency equipment and information about warning systems for your particular site. Such systems may include, but are not limited to, the following:

Fire/Smoke Detection and Warning

Recommended information: automatic sprinklers, location of fire extinguishers (including maps), lighting

Emergency Power System

Recommended information: emergency power backup equipment

Recognizing an Alarm System Warning

Recommended information: description of warnings (sound, light)



The purpose of a hazard analysis is to determine the hazards a site is most susceptible and vulnerable to experiencing. By determining those hazards prior to development, the site emergency plan will be realistic.

Starting Point

A good place to look for information regarding potential hazards is the local emergency management office. This office can describe the disaster history of the community, the location of flood plains, frequency of tornadoes, and so on. The local library may also provide some insight on local disasters.


Look at disasters or emergencies that have occurred in the community, for example: tornadoes, wind storms, severe winter weather, heavy rains, forest fires, flooding, utility problems, transportation accidents, etc. Consider the geographic location of the site to flood plains, nuclear power plants, heavy forest, major transportation routes, and neighboring sites with might be hazardous. Look into past emergency events onsite. Consider technological problems that could occur due to problems on the site, such as heating and cooling systems, incinerator problems, power failure, etc. Consider the construction of buildings on the site. Do the buildings pose any hazards, such as building collapse?

Hazard Analysis Worksheet

Using the worksheet on the next page examine the listed hazards. List any other possible hazards that the site may face under the first column labeled “Hazards”. Cross off any hazards that are not possible, for example the “onsite hazardous material” incident.

Using a scale of 1 to 3, estimate the possibility of each listed hazard.

  1. unlikely or low possibility

  2. maybe or average possibility

  3. likely or high possibility

In the next three columns labeled, “Employee Impact,” “Property Impact,” and “Economic Impact” use a 1 to 3 scale. Using the 1 to 3 scale estimate the possible impact of each hazard on the employees, property and business. Use a worse case scenario to estimate the probable impact.

  1. low impact (few hours lost productivity, nick and scratch injuries, slight property damage.)
  2. moderate impact (loss of wage, loss of short term productivity, serious bodily injury, moderate property damage.)
  3. high impact (loss of employment, loss of life, destruction of property and business.)

After factoring each impact area, total the row for each hazard. Using the totals, prioritize the hazards to determine which hazards to plan for first. Depending on the needs and resources of the organization, complete the low priorities as possible, or not at all.





Employee Impact

Property Impact

Economic Impact

Total Possible






Severe Winter Storm




Onsite Haz/Mat*


Off-site Haz/Mat*


Bomb Threat


Civil Unrest




* Haz/Mat means Hazardous Materials