Emergency Preparedness at First Church

At our recent Congregational Meeting on January 12, staff offered an update on emergency preparedness at First Church. This marks the beginning of a phase in our ongoing safety and security work that includes the whole congregation — sharing information and offering training.

Safety, security, and emergency preparedness routinely needs attention over the life of a church community, not out of a sense of fear or reactively, but as a part of our hospitality ministry – a living out of our welcome for all and of our desire to create safe space for all of our members and guests.

Since mid-2018, when our Finance and Operations Manager, Janis Worley, joined the staff, she and our Facility Maintenance Coordinator, Russ Gaippe, have been working behind the scenes on emergency preparedness. I am very grateful for their ongoing efforts as well as those of our Building & Grounds Board, and am pleased to share a summary of the points Janis and Russ covered recently both as a reminder and to inform anyone who was unable to attend the meeting. If you have questions at any point, please feel free to reach out to either Janis or Russ.

This recent training focused on fire safety. Russ and Janis will visit with us again to cover various other emergency preparedness scenarios, including active shooter. While that scenario is often where our minds go first, I encourage us all to remember that statistically speaking many other scenarios, including a medical emergency, are far more likely and require protocols we’re all aware of. Janis and Russ will be meeting with our ushers and lay leaders this winter and we plan to offer First Aid/CPR training in 2020 for leaders and interested members.

In all circumstances, please remember:

  • If you see something threatening, go ahead and call 911. Don’t assume someone else will do it and rest assured, in the case of an emergency, it’s alright for numerous calls to be made.
  • If you happen to get hurt on the church premises (if you fall or get cut or something of that nature), or witness an injury occur, please contact Janis at 330.253.5109 x111 to document those situations.
  • First Church has joined with other faith communities in declaring our worship spaces and campuses gun-free zones. Police officers are exempt from the rule that carrying firearms into the church is prohibited. No one else may carry a firearm onto the First Church premises. We provide sanctuary on our grounds as a gun-free zone and people on our property are offered a safe place to worship God, find tranquility for prayer, and interact peacefully with others for fellowship, learning, working, and meeting. God calls us to live out the gospel by seeking reconciliation and building God’s reign on earth, urging people to put down weapons and honor the value of human life.

Fire Safety:

  • Awareness: we ask that you be aware of your surroundings and know where the nearest exits are, should the fire alarm sound or an emergency occur. All exits are marked and exit route maps are posted in each room. All rooms with first-aid kits, fire extinguishers, and the AED Defibrillator have signage. Please note these locations.
  • Emergency Meeting Point: if the alarm sounds, we ask everyone to exit in an orderly manner and meet up on the sidewalk between our lower lot and the Methodist Church parking lot next door. This will allow us to know that we have all safely exited the building.
  • Children: the Childcare Workers and Church School volunteers are aware of these plans and will take care of the children in the event of an emergency. Please plan to meet them at the Emergency Meeting Point.
  • Extinguishers: please take note of the location of all 39 fire extinguishers throughout the building and know that they are checked regularly.
  • First-Aid Kits / AED: Larger first aid kits have been placed in the Meetinghouse Family Room, the kitchen, front office Break Room and Upper Room. Smaller kits have also been placed throughout the building. The AED Defibrillator is located in the main hallway outside the front office. All are marked with signage.

In addition to the items included above, additional work has been happening behind the scenes to attend to safety and security at our church. This includes adding door locks to various rooms, numbering rooms in the building, updating our security camera system, as well as our fire and burglar alarm panels, trimming the large trees just outside our main entrances to prevent injury from falling limbs, re-pouring the sidewalk and stairs leading from the Chapel to the lower parking lot to a safer slope and adding an additional handrail, relaying the patio as the uneven and missing bricks were a hazard, and, with the generous support of Jay and Linda Hultz, installing ADA openers to the Chapel entrance to make our building more accessible, and the addition of new exterior signage.

Again, my gratitude to our staff and lay leaders for helping us create an environment that is welcoming and safe for all. If you have questions at any point, please feel free to reach out to either Russ or Janis.

Grace and peace,



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