An online preparedness guide and consulting for city leaders.

Planning | Response Plan

Safety, Security and Emergency Operations Plans

Having a plan is a large part of being prepared. Your Christian community has processes and systems in place that allow your organization to function. What would happen if the leader were unavailable for a week? A 24-hour period? How would his unavailability affect the ministry of your organization? What would happen if your building was lost through fire, tornado or other storm? Would your ministry be able to continue?

These are the types of questions and possibilities that are addressed in the Ministry Continuity Plan (MCP) and the Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). Each of these plans work together to give you the comprehensive plan for how your church will respond in times of crisis.

The MCP is the plan that identifies steps needed to take to bring your church back to its original state of operations, to continue the ministry that you operate through the church. The EOP outlines specific responses to various potential threats that are identified by your City Emergency Team (CET).

The ReadyCity Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) identifies the priorities of the local Christian community in preparing and responding. The ReadyCity Emergency Plan will provide a focus for ReadyCity efforts in the coming years. Instead of an abstract need to prepare, the plan identifies the specific and tangible areas of need as described by community leaders.

The overall objective in managing emergency operations is to ensure effective direction, control, and support of emergency forces involved in preparing for and responding to situations associated with natural disaster, technological incidents, or national defense emergencies. Your ReadyCity will have its own Christian Emergency Operations Center to respond to emergencies your ReadyCity EOP has identified through biblical agreement.

The specific purpose of a Christian Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is to facilitate:

  • Sensitively sharing our Christian faith (Pray, Care and Share)
  • Overall management and coordination of emergency operations (Ready, Response, Recovery)
  • Assessment or collection of resources or services, evaluation and dissemination of information (facility damage or volunteer information), and other essential data
  • Coordination and liaison with appropriate organizations (ReadyCity, State and Federal Emergency Management)
  • Establishment of priorities and response, such as the allocation of resources.

Although different, these plans work in conjunction to help your Christian community both address and respond to a given incident as well as outline a plan to return your city to its normal operations. The EOP is the physical security component of the overall safety and security plan. It is recommended that the EOP be either filed with or made available to local emergency management in times of disaster.

Prior to starting development of the Emergency Response Plans, we encourage you to do the following training if you have not yet done so. These trainings provide the foundational and background information that will be needed to create your response plans.

Planning | Identifying Community Resources

The Christian community can have a big impact in your city. Learn how to assess your community’s resource capacity to respond to crisis in the city along with some practical steps in getting any Christian organization, no matter its size, ready to respond in emergencies. Download the Capacity Assessment Worksheets to discover what your Christian community already has available internally to respond, the potential risks in your city and the organizational information that can be utilized in times of crisis to bring a Biblical Response.

Planning | Risk Assessment

Knowing the risks that your city faces and the impact that those risks would have on your Christian community are the first steps to being able to develop effective response plans. Assess what risks your city faces using the Risk Assessment Template. Identify what the potential impacts on the local Christian community would be using the Impact Analysis Template.

The plans that we will be discussing for the ReadyCity to develop include:

  • Emergency Operations Plan – details specific responses to specific incidents to continue ministry operations
  • Ministry Continuity Plan – details specific steps to take to get ministry to return to normal operations
  • Emergency Operations Center Plan – details management infrastructure set up when responding in the community
  • Emergency Response Plan – details how your ReadyCity will respond in the community

Emergency Operations Plan

A ReadyCity Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) is a plan that clearly and concisely describes a Christian community’s emergency organization, its means of coordination with various organizations, and its approach to protecting people and property from disasters and emergencies caused by any of the hazards to which the community is particularly vulnerable. It assigns functional responsibilities to the elements of the emergency organization, and details tasks to be carried out at times and places projected as accurately as permitted by the nature of each situation addressed. An EOP is a multi-hazard, functional plan that treats emergency management activities generically. They have a basic section that provides generally applicable information without reference to any particular hazard.

They also address the unique aspects of individual disasters in hazard-specific appendices.

Framework for Emergency Operations Planning

A disaster or emergency impacts a community in its ability to function and mobilize in its mission.

Our approach supports mitigating this by identifying key components of an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) and identifying an approach to developing such a plan.

The core activities of Emergency Planning are:

What is BETH3?

BETH3 summarizes the elements that can be impacted in the event of a disaster.

T –echnology (IT Hardware/Software/Infrastructure) H –uman Resources

3 –rd Parties (Dependencies)

Building: Basic information about building/facilities that is essential to the resumption/continuation of your ministry’s most critical processes and functions.

Equipment: Necessary equipment and supplies, which are essential to the resumption/continuation of your ministry’s most critical, processes and functions.

Technology: Key technology and systems, which are essential to the resumption/continuation of your ministry’s most critical processes and functions.

Human Resources (people): Key personnel or job functions, which are essential to the resumption/continuation of your ministry’s most critical processes and functions.

3rd Party/Vendor: Key third-party partners or suppliers, which are essential to the resumption/continuation of your ministry’s most critical processes and functions.

Each of these elements were addressed in earlier stages of the ReadyCity process but are mentioned again here for redundancy. If you have not done the earlier stages, evaluating the BETH3 areas mentioned above in light of what your church has available as resources and how they may be impacted by various potential risks is the groundwork that needs to be done before moving on to the development of the emergency response plans.

During a disaster or incident, an EOP is used to:

  • Outline specific steps to be taken to respond to a given incident.
  • Explain who is responsible for what action in a given incident.
  • Have a compilation of needed information to respond in a given incident.

What are some key items to consider while developing your EOPs?

Your plan should include the following basic components:

  • Executive Summary
  • Emergency Management Elements
  • Emergency Response Procedures
  • Support Documents
  • Emergency Call Lists
  • Resource Lists

In summary, there are 8 steps to developing an EOP:

  • Identify Challenges and Prioritize Activities
  • Write the Plan
  • Establish a Training Schedule
  • Coordinate with Outside Organizations
  • Maintain Contact with Other Christian organizations
  • Review, Conduct Training and Revise
  • Seek Final Approval
  • Distribute the Plan

More detail is provided on developing these components in the download material document, “How to write an Emergency Operations Plan for a CET.” There is also a “Sample Emergency Operations Plan Template” provided for your use to adapt into what fits your church. The Department of Homeland Security has also developed a guide called “Houses of Worship Emergency Operations Plan Guide” that we have included in the download material for further information.

Ministry Continuity Plan (MCP)

A Ministry Continuity Plan (MCP) Is a plan that details the steps that are needed to take to return a ministry to its full functionality following an emergency or disaster.

During a disaster or incident, a MCP is used to:

  • Provide an organized, coordinated and consolidated approach to managing response and recovery activities to avoid confusion and reduce exposure to error.
  • Provide a prompt and appropriate response to unplanned incidents, thereby reducing the impacts resulting from interruptions.
  • Recover critical and essential operations in a timely manner, therefore increasing the ability of the Ministry to recover from an incident.
  • What are some key items to consider while developing your MCP?
  • Leverage your Ministry Impact Analysis (MIA) for information such as ministry process, names, maximum tolerable period of disruption for MCP, task timeframes, and actual recovery strategies.
  • Tasks should be in a sequential or other logical order and designed for ease of execution during an actual disruption.
  • Do not include preparatory tasks, which should be completed before the actual disruption.
  • The tasks should be sufficiently detailed to make it clear what the activity entails, but consider leaving lots of supporting details (e.g. standard operating procedures) in an attachment or in the appendix for readability.
  • Maintain member focus and utilize a discipline of lean solutions for ministry continuity to ensure timely service to your members.
  • Consider legal and regulatory requirements, as well as organization policies and mission while developing specific tasks.
  • Consider both the formal organization of the Christian community, as well as the informal delegation of authority when outlining tasks.
  • Understand that developing a MCP is not just a one-time activity, but an iterative process that includes testing, updating and maintenance.

In summary, there are 10 steps to developing a MCP. Review and re-familiarize yourself with the Ministry Impact Analysis (MIA) for your critical ministry processes.

  1. Document plan logistics
  2. Document plan invocation information and procedures
  3. Document detailed tasks and requirements
  4. Document contact information
  5. Document technology, real estate and personnel requirements
  6. Document or insert pertinent information as appendices
  7. Perform quality check
  8. Obtain leadership approval and signatures
  9. Document plan distribution, maintenance and exercise history log
  10. CET to review completed MCP’s

More detail is provided on developing these components in the download material document, “MCP Template.”

Questions to Ask:

How would your MCP change if there was an interruption in services that lasted one hour, one day, one week, 2-4 weeks, 5 weeks or longer?

Is time important in restoring your critical processes and functions?

Knowing what your critical functions and processes are, what do you plan to do in the event of a crisis concerning each of the BETH-3 items (buildings, equipment, technology, human resources, and third-parties)?

For example, what alternate facilities will you need should your critical facilities become unavailable? Who are the responsible people for carrying out your MCP?

What can you do now to prepare for a crisis, even before you start to use your Emergency Operation Plans (EOP)?

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 the ReadyCity organizations
  • 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 ReadyCity groups
  • Issuing press releases; conducting media briefings

The Emergency Response Team that the 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 ReadyCity plans. This is provided in the download material.

The Emergency Response Plan

Once a ReadyCity has evaluated their capacity, made plans to continue their ministry operations in a crisis and created an emergency operations plan for their community, 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 ReadyCity 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 Christian community to respond. Sample/suggested preparedness levels to work towards attaining are included in the downloadable material. As a ReadyCity, it is recommended to consolidate the information provided about how the participating Christian organizations wish to respond into a collaborative response plan for the Christian community in your city.

Once the desired preparedness level is decided, then the ReadyCity can start taking steps to developing those preparedness levels. Further training will likely be required. By the time you reach this step in the ReadyCity 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 ReadyCity 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 ReadyCity has chosen.

ReadyCity Sample Ready Preparedness Focus Areas