Picture the following scenes:It is 7:00 p.m. on a Sabbath evening in late fall. You’re back at church for a special event. You head to the bathroom and discover a fellow church member has fallen down a flight of stairs near the entrance to the bathroom. What do you do?
It is just before prayer meeting on a Wednesday evening in the summer. You hear the unmistakable sound of metal crunching against metal. When you turn around you see that a church member crashed into another church member’s vehicle. They’ve also hit a church member who was simply walking along and is now injured. What do you do?
It is a Sunday morning, and you are in the church kitchen preparing for your church’s food bank outreach ministry. Behind you, you hear the sound of pans clanging against each other. You turn around to see that another volunteer has tripped over the oven door they’ve just opened, and now they look injured. What do you do?
Although I’ve changed the information slightly, all three of the above scenarios are based on actual claims that Adventist Risk Management, Inc, (ARM), has received in the past year. If faced with one of these situations, what would you do?
Safety First!As spiritual leaders, when it comes to protecting our ministries, we need to establish safety and security for our members. Whether you are the safety officer, designated emergency response person at your church, or just a regular church member, the first and most important thing to do is ensure the safety and health of the person involved in the accident.
If injuries exist, dial 911 in the United States, or the local emergency response number for your location, to bring local emergency responders to the scene. Remember, if you call the emergency response number and the injuries turn out not be serious, the emergency responders can move on to their next call with no harm. However, if you don’t call for emergency response and the injuries are serious, that could mean the difference between losing a limb, or even in dire circumstances, losing a life. Err on the side of caution and call for professional help.
How To Treat the Injured?Your church leadership likely has someone who has been designated as the emergency response personnel at the church. If you do not, your church administration should appoint one. Review our articles on “Getting Started with Emergency Planning” and “Looking Ahead to Safeguard Your Ministry. ”This is the person who should be attempting to “treat” the injured person.
There may be times when a medical professional is the church’s emergency response person. Often, accidents can generate injuries that will not be solved by a church’s first-aid kit. In some cases, this kit may be useful to treat minor cuts, scrapes, or bumps. However, if there is any indication that the injured person needs more extensive medical treatment than a layperson with a first-aid kit can provide, contact 911 in the United States, or your local emergency response number as soon as possible.
Reporting the AccidentReporting or documenting the incident is extremely important. The longer you wait to record and report the accident, the harder it is to remember specific details of the accident. These details can be crucial if the injured person later files a liability claim against your church. Reporting an accident protects the church and enables the correction of the situation that caused the accident. Quick resolutions can prevent similar occurrences from happening in the future. Here is a fillable reporting form for your church to use.
Now that you’ve filled out the accident report form, the final step you need to take is to report the incident to ARM. You can accomplish this by filling out the accident report and the statement of loss, and sending these documents via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via fax to (301) 453-7060.
The word accident is currently defined as an unfortunate event that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, usually ending in damage or injuries. The word came from the Latin accidō, which translates to “to happen.” Accidents happen. There is no doubt about that. How others will view us is not based on whether an accident occurred or not, but on how we react and handle the accidents when they do happen. ARM is here for your congregation to make sure that we respond and handle accidents in a kind and effective manner.
Image Credits: iStock/Zinkevych