Dealing with Emergencies in the ERC

16.1 Introduction

The best way to deal with emergencies is to be prepared in advance. To be better prepared for possible safety concerns or emergencies, refer to section 15, “Supervising the Safety Program.” If an emergency occurs that involves the ERC or those within it, use the following guidelines to respond quickly and effectively. These plans should be periodically reviewed in staff meetings (see section 15.4 “Review Safety Procedures”).

Refer to the safety binder for more information.

All centers should contact their ASOC and AWM if a situation requires it. The AWM will contact the MFO and Church headquarters when necessary.


16.2 Area-Specific Emergency Plans

Different areas are more at risk for certain emergencies than others (for example, some areas may deal more regularly with hurricanes while others deal with forest fires); therefore, each ERC should have an emergency plan specific to its area.

The ERC should draft these plans, which should not be longer than five pages. Use people’s titles in the plans, rather than their names.

These plans should be shared with the ASOC for input.

16.3 Emergency Closure Criteria

There are two conditions that warrant consideration for closing down operations. The two conditions are:

  • It is unsafe for staff members to remain at the work location (for example, during a utility interruption or civil disturbance) or
  • It is unsafe for staff to travel to and from the workplace (for example, during extreme weather conditions).

Before closing the center, the ERC manager should contact the ASOC and the AWM. If needed, the AWM will contact the MFO or Church headquarters.

16.4 Upset Candidates

Most candidates will never create a situation that could become a potential emergency, but sometimes candidates will come into the ERC upset. If this happens, use the following guidelines:

  • Remain calm.
  • Find a place that provides some privacy.

Invite the individual to a place within the facility that provides a measure of privacy. Do not corner yourself in a room where you cannot get out if the situation becomes violent. Ensure that another staff member is with you as you visit with the individual. If possible, the other staff member should be of the same gender as the individual.

  • Listen politely.

Listen to the individual’s concerns and respond with kindness. If someone who is upset sees that you care enough to listen to him or her, the anger often dissipates and the person is able to move toward a solution.

Seek to understand the person’s feelings. As you speak to the person, use phrases like“Thanks for bringing this to our attention,” “We want to provide you with the best service we can,” and “Thank you for your patience in helping us find a solution.”

Strive to help the person understand that you desire to help and that you want to find a solution to their concerns. Respond to difficult candidates in a kind and loving manner. This will greatly increase your chances of diffusing the candidate’s hostility and creating a win-win solution.

  • Protect candidates and workers.
  • If the individual becomes very disturbed or violent, you should politely ask him or her to leave. If the person refuses to leave, call 911 or local emergency services and ask for police assistance. If the police become involved, contact your ASOC and AWM as soon as the situation has calmed down.

16.5 Medical Emergency

If there is a medical emergency at the ERC, follow these procedures:

  • Call 911 or local emergency medical services and follow any advice they give.
  • Do not move a seriously injured person unless the person is in imminent, life-threatening danger.
  • Administer first aid, isolate the victim, and provide comfort.
  • Direct emergency medical personnel to the victim.
  • Notify your ASOC and AWM as soon as appropriate.

16.6 Utility Outage

If there is a utility outage that could cause an emergency situation, follow these procedures:

  • Secure the building and other assets.
  • Contact the utility company.
  • Place missionaries and volunteers at the exits to assist candidates and others.
  • Notify your ASOC and AWM as needed.

16.7 Hazardous Materials Release

If there is a gas leak or other hazardous material release, follow these procedures:

  • If possible, isolate the area of the leak or spill. Do not attempt to clean up the hazardous material.
  • Evacuate the building.
  • Call 911 or local emergency services.
  • Do not reenter the building except as directed by emergency services personnel.
  • Notify your ASOC and AWM.

16.8 Severe Weather

If there is a severe weather warning or watch, follow these procedures and ensure that others follow them as well:

  • Monitor weather reports.
  • Move to the safest place available, such as the interior of the building.
  • Stay away from windows and open doors.
  • Stay at the safest location until the weather emergency has passed or until you are instructed to return to your work site.
  • Notify your ASOC and AWM, if appropriate.

16.9 Fire

If fire or smoke is detected at the ERC, follow these procedures and ensure that others follow them as well:

  • Pull the fire alarm or verbally notify everyone in the building.
  • Call 911 or local emergency services.
  • Evacuate to the designated assembly point outside of the building.
  • Ensure that everyone has left the building, and account for all missionaries, volunteers, and candidates.
  • Do not reenter the building until instructed to do so by emergency services personnel.
  • Notify your ASOC and AWM.

16.10 Earthquake

During an earthquake, follow these procedures and ensure that others follow them as well:

  • Stay inside and take cover under a solid object, such as a desk or table, or stand braced inside a door frame or against an inside wall.
  • Stay in place until the quake stops.
  • Stay away from glass, outside walls, and stairways.
  • Do not run through the building. The greatest danger comes from falling objects.
  • Remain calm—there is nothing you can do during the quake.
  • If you are outside, stay outside. Go to an open area away from the building, utility lines, glass, trees, and slopes.

When the earthquake stops, follow these procedures and ensure that others follow them as well:

  • Immediately check for all persons. Administer first aid to those in need.
  • If necessary, remove people from dangerous areas.
  • Call emergency medical services if needed.
  • Check the facility for fires, doors that will not open, electricity failures, and ruptured gas or water lines.
  • If necessary, evacuate and secure the building.
  • Report the condition of the facility and personnel to your ASOC and AWM.

16.11 Bomb Threat

If there is a bomb threat in your building, follow these procedures and ensure that others follow them as well:

  • Do not touch or move suspicious objects.
  • Evacuate.
  • Call 911 or local emergency services.
  • Notify your ASOC and AWM.
  • Wait for emergency services personnel to come and search for the possible bomb.

If you receive a bomb threat by telephone, remain calm and write down as much of the following information as possible:

  • When will the bomb go off?
  • Where is the bomb?
  • What is the type and size of the bomb?
  • Why was it placed in the building?
  • What are some characteristics of the caller’s voice?
  • How old is the caller (in your judgment)?

16.12 Civil Disturbance

If there is a civil disturbance, such as a demonstration or riot, near the ERC, follow these procedures and ensure that others follow them as well:

  • Call 911 or local emergency services.
  • Stay calm; do not provoke a confrontation.
  • Avoid verbal exchanges or arguments.
  • Approach groups in pairs, do not use physical force, and do not physically confront intruders.
  • Resume normal operations only after management representatives and law enforcement officials have taken appropriate action.
  • Notify your agent stake president once the disturbance has been quieted.
  • Notify your ASOC and AWM of any threats to safety.

16.13 Active Shooter—Run, Hide, Fight

In the event of an active shooter (a person who is engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined or populated area) in your workplace, please adhere to the Run, Hide, Fight guidelines outlined in the “Surviving an Active Shooter Incident” training.