Shepherding God’s People(1 Peter 5)
A Safety Management/Evacuation Plan
For Holy Trinity Church
Even with “...God...keeping careful watch over us…” (Peter 1:5), we are not absolved from the obligation to take proper care of ourselves especially with today’s uncertainties. Our Safety Management/Evacuation Plan is an attempt to provide a safe environment for all who gather to worship in our church. (Fr Michel Dalton, OFM Capuchin, Pastor’s Message).
Holy Trinity Church has completed a Safety/Management Evacuation Plan covering possible scenarios or emergencies that could occur in a parish; from a Tsunami Alert, to a medical emergency, from a bomb threat to an active shooter, we will be prepared, as best as we can, to provide basic assistance until first responders arrive.
This plan was developed with the assistance of the Honolulu Fire Department Office of Community Relations and the Honolulu Police Department Office of Community Affairs; we are grateful for their site visit, recommendations and plan review.
In a time of horrendous violence and destruction of property and human life, Holy Trinity decided to prepare, to become proactive rather than wait and ignore. We began with the Diocesan draft of information to be included and tailored it to the uniqueness of our parish. Our frontage is Kalanianaole Highway, a major traffic corridor in East Oahu and the back borders Paiko Lagoon, within the tsunami evacuation zone. Fr. Mike tasked a group, headed by our Ushers and included our Maintenance Team and parishioners some are active or retired professional police, fire, and other first responders to craft and edit this plan. We invited the Honolulu Fire Department and Honolulu Police Department who visited our campus and walked our location, offering recommendations for our consideration. Our Maintenance Team provided site plans identifying location of water, electric and gas shut off controls, including photos, in the event they are needed by emergency personnel. In addition, we are fortunate to have paid HPD police presence at weekend Masses, not only for traffic safety on the highway, but the job description, given prior to each Mass, provides for patrolling the campus, identifying suspicious persons or situations and for the safety of our congregation. Now with 2 way radio contact and agreed upon codes, we can communicate with the officer in the event of any emergency. We also have bright red vests to identify our Ushers for temporary leadership until first responders are on scene.
We began with simple identification badges for our Ushers, sufficiently large enough to be visible in order for parishioners to know who can render assistance...who to “go to.” Our final document is 28 pages of instructions and illustrations of what to do in various emergencies and defines the roles and responsibilities of those involved.
Our pastor has been sharing our plan with the congregation each week; not to alarm but rather to foster awareness and information. Parishioners have been appreciative of this and have offered positive comments. This is a living document and will continually be reviewed and updated as situations change.
Our goal is to stress how important it is to be knowledgeable and prepared. Our ushers, “the face of the church,” are critical in the implementation of this plan. We are grateful to them for stepping forward and being proactive. Shepherding God’s People is multifaceted and our Safety Management/Evacuation Plan is an example of what a parish in this day and age needs to do in an era when horrible events can happen anywhere, even at Holy Trinity Church.
Dennis Lock, usher, with radio and vest.