No man is an island: this phrase is never truer than when faced with an emergency. Within every municipality, there are plans in place and agencies which are responsible to respond. The faith community has a vital role to play in an emergency but they need to be connected if they are to be part of the response. The role that an individual faith group may play will vary with every group. Whether it is providing space to other agencies, offering direct response services or providing pastoral and spiritual care, they need to be part of the communication chain to know when and where to be.
The time to make these connections is NOW before an emergency strikes.
Resources for Faith Groups
A number of faith groups have prepared resources for use in the event of an emergency. While some have been prepared with a response to a pandemic (health-related) event, such as H1N1 Influenza, the principles may be of assistance for others developing an emergency response plan.
Mennonite Disaster Service
Presbyterian Church in Canada
National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NOVAD) – Emotional and Spiritual Care Committee
Emergency Response Services
Several organizations have resources that may be of assistance in developing an emergency plan or in understanding response. The following list identifies some of those resources.
North American Mission Board
The responsibility for emergency response lies first with the municipal authorities, then with provincial and finally with federal. This structure is well defined and solid communication lines are in place to facilitate communication and escalate response needs as required.
Faith communities feel a call to respond to the spiritual and physical needs of persons during an emergency. To do this, connections need to be made with those persons responsible for Emergency Social Services, starting at the local or municipal level. Contact the local police, fire, emergency services and public health to find out what role your faith community may be able to play in a local emergency or disaster.
Provincial & Federal Links
Public Health (Influenza)
Responding in an emergency means also that there are people in a position to respond to the needs of others. Equipping individuals includes having a personal emergency plan. Officials recommend that individuals be able to look after themselves for 72 hours – 3 days – without needing to rely on external sources. The following links provide information on preparing a plan and an emergency kit.
Newfoundland and Labrador
For some, being prepared may require more than having a personal plan and kit. Special populations have specific needs to be addressed. Included are links to sites which talk about how to assist these populations.