Churches Participate In Whitfield County EMA's Place Of Worship Safety Seminar And Training

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Whitfield County Emergency Management Agency hosted their first Place of Worship Safety Seminar on Saturday, May 14. Twenty-six participants from 10 congregations came to learn about various ways they could be more prepared in their congregation. The program was launched in response to inquiries from the community.

Participants for the Place of Worship Seminar learned about Georgia Emergency Management Agency’s (GEMA) Praise and Preparedness program, mass care sheltering, disaster psychology and disaster planning. They also completed Stop the Bleed training and Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) training. 

Participant Brandon Cannon of Welcome Hill Baptist Church said, “I recommend any house of worship, or civilian for that matter, to attend one of their training seminars to be better prepared in the event of a situation. Get aware to stay aware.”

Welcome Hill Baptist Church was inspired by the seminar to become the first in the state to obtain their Praise and Preparedness Partnership with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security (GEMA/HS) since its relaunch in 2022. 

“We’re proud to have been a part of the process for Welcome Hill. It’s always heartwarming to see community members coming together to increase their preparedness, whether it’s earning a distinguished honor such as this, joining the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) or any other avenue of personal preparedness,” said Christina Byrd of Whitfield EMA.

On Sunday, May 15, the church decided to finish the process by Sunday, June 12. The safety team and other church leadership updated their existing Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) based on information learned at the seminar, developed a communications plan for events affecting the church and hosted Safety Sunday for their congregation. 

Safety Sunday included an evacuation drill during the morning service, CRASE for the evening service instead of a traditional sermon and Whitfield EMA and GEMA/HS presentation of their Praise and Preparedness Certificate that they will be able to display at the church. 

“Special thanks to Tim Reeve, GEMA field coordinator, Jason Ritter, GEMA field coordinator, Christina Byrd, Whitfield EMA, and Jeff Ownby, Whitfield EMA, for bringing this wonderful opportunity to our church, and hopefully other houses of worship will follow suit and get on board. The more we have, the more we can deter violence in God’s house and possibly save lives if an accident or tragedy occurs,” said Mr. Cannon.

Whitfield County EMA will host a Small Business Seminar on Aug. 24 from 8 a.m-5 p.m. at Edward’s Park. Lunch will be provided. Participants will go through CRASE, Stop the Bleed, Risk Assessment, Epilepsy Awareness, Disaster Planning and Industry in Disasters. 

To sign up, visit https://form.jotform.com/22044490710114.


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