Being prepared for emergencies
The church council should develop an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) for the congregation. It is important that helpers and leaders are aware of the congregations ERP, and equipped with appropriate first aid supplies and appointed and qualified personnel.
Responding to incidents
Even after all the planning, sometimes things may go wrong. When things go wrong, you need to work as a team and follow processes to address the situation:
- Provide for the child’s immediate needs. In some cases you may need to call for emergency medical aid or assistance from the Queensland Police Service.
- Ensure that the child feels safe, accept regressive behaviour and believe them (this is their reality).
- Involve the child, communicate with them and do not leave them alone.
- Reunite them as soon as possible with their parent (if it is safe to do so).
- You may have to initiate the congregation’s emergency response plan and contact certain local people.
- If safe to do so, the group activity could continue, with appropriate supervision, while the injured child is helped. Otherwise, move to a different activity (which you will have planned for in your preparation).
- Ensure you maintain and respect the dignity and privacy of all parties involved and treat all information confidentially.
- Once the immediate crisis is over and the initial response phase is finished, there will need to be a report about the incident or abuse.
- If you are involved you may need to put something in writing from your perspective.
- All first aid treatment must be documented on an incident report form (download this from the Queensland Synod website).
It is advisable to keep emergency contact numbers and the Poisons Information hotline number (131 126) with the first aid kit.
You may seek assistance and/or report your suspicions or knowledge of abuse by calling the Synod office on 1800 586 591. If this number is unattended, your message will be converted to text and emailed to someone who will contact you as soon as possible. You may email reports to the Synod office: firstname.lastname@example.org
It is important for issues to be addressed and for relevant information (no matter how large or small) to be evaluated and acted on. Sometimes concerns will be obvious, yet there may be several people involved, each with a different perspective and information. At times, seemingly small pieces of information can be important to a situation, and need to be shared with the right person so that action can be taken.
To enable this to happen, individuals who have a concern must be empowered to raise each of their concerns as soon as possible, and for resolutions to be achieved, and appropriate records kept. The policy provides the impetus for this action. All processes should be carried out in a respectful manner, conducted reasonably, ethically and consistently across the organisation.
The aim of the process is to support and guide a person to work and interact in a positive, productive and safe manner. The church values the contribution of its members and this should be reflected in the way this process is conducted throughout the church. The system for handling concerns outlines processes and tools involved with performance management, incidents or accidents and records about suspected abuse or harm. Help for the helpers assists with information about reporting and referring victims of abuse.
Forms and resources for handling incidents and emergencies
- Systems for handling concerns [Process ] PRO-SMC-02_v1.0
- Performance management discussion record [Form ] TOO-SMC-02.1.01_v1.0
- Performance improvement plan [Form ] TOO-SMC-02.1.02_v1.0
- Complaints/Allegations – CHILD [Form ] TOO-SMC-02.1.03_v1.0
- Help for the helpers [Reference sheet ] TOO-SMC-02.1.04_v1.0
- Hazard/Incident notes [Form ]
- Hazard/Incident register process and form [Process and form]
- Emergency procedures flip chart [Reference ]