First United Methodist Church of Austin exists to build a community where all people are invited to know God’s love and sent to join God in transforming the world. To accomplish this, First United Methodist Church of Austin must strive to provide a safe and secure place of worship for all congregants.
In 2017, the pastors initiated a project with a committee of lay members and staff to review and develop an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). The committee developed a comprehensive plan to address emergency evaluations, lockdowns, severe weather, crisis communications, and trainings required for staff, ushers and open to the congregation.
One result of this committee was the addition of a police presence in the Sanctuary foyer on Sunday mornings to ensure our building remains a safe space to worship. As the committee completed its plan, a Security Task Force, led by Dave Ballbach, our Director of Operations, was put in place with staff members in partnership with a security consultant to carry out the implementation.
Below summarizes the work accomplished by the Security Task Force. While the work of the Security Task Force focuses on awareness, training, and procedures, staying alert extends to everyone. Every person is empowered to report any suspicious activity. If you see something, say something. Suspicious activity should be reported to the lead usher and then the security guard on Sunday mornings.
- Met with a representative from Alertus to discuss campus-wide safety technology.
- A security walk through was conducted with the Austin Police Department (APD) to evaluate safety risks in the church building and around its exterior perimeter, in the day school, and Family Life Center.
- A Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) training was held for staff in October.
- A one-page update to the FUMC Employee Manual detailing safety protocols for evacuation, lock down, lock out and shelter in place was created.
- A comprehensive Lobby Safety Manual was created for the receptionist’s desk.
- The church’s Crisis Communications Plan was reviewed and updated.
- A fire drill with evacuation messaging took place on Sunday, November 10, 2019 during the Sunday School hour with assistance by the Austin Fire Department.
- Safety Guidelines signs detailing safety protocols for evacuation, lock down, lock out and shelter in place along with evacuation maps were installed in classrooms across the Education, Sanctuary, and Family Life Center buildings on December 19.
- Building maps were submitted to APD and AFD for future emergency purposes.
- Three First Aid/Trauma Kits and four Evacuation Chairs were purchased and placed in key locations in case of emergencies.
- Congregants who can assist in medical and mental health emergencies were identified.
- A standardized Incident Report Form was developed and is available at the church office, Ushers’ Room, Sunday School binders, and online at https://fumcaustin.org/incident.
- An incident is a situation involving 1) abuse of any kind – mental, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; 2) an injury due to an accident; or 3) possession of illegal or indecent property such as weapons, drugs, or pornography.
- In the event of an incident, a completed and signed form should be turned in at the church office for further investigation.
- Usher Training was completed on Sunday, January 12, 2020 to review standard response protocols, evacuation procedures, and new policies. A video recording of the training is available for the onboarding of new ushers.
- The GroupMe app was set up for quick communications among Ushers in the event of an emergency.
- Restricted access to the Sanctuary during Sunday morning worship is planned for Spring 2020.
- A schedule for routine re-keying and re-coding of doors and locks will be created.
Thank you to everyone for being aware of our security at FUMC! Your dedication to making people feel secure, welcome, and comfortable in our worship services is so appreciated and crucial to the success of our mission.