It’s not uncommon for churches to deal with medical incidents, but these incidents are usually minor and require little more than basic First-Aid. Unfortunately, churches may sometimes face major medical emergencies. As a Georgia church insurance agency, we believe that knowing how to deal with a minor incident may keep it from developing into a full-blown emergency.
The National Center for Health Statistics reports that 325,000 people die annually from heart attacks outside a hospital. Would you and your staff know what to do if one of your congregants suffered a heart attack at your church?
The American College of Physicians suggests a four-part approach for preparing for and dealing with medical incidents, whether major or minor. By Preventing, Preparing, Recognizing, and Acting, you can protect your people and potentially avoid a crisis.
- Make leaders aware of the physical requirements and risks involved in any activity. Ensure that all participants are able to be involved safely.
- Carefully inspect the location and any equipment prior to use to ensure that they are safe.
- Create a written emergency plan for specific emergencies that are potentials during any activity. Include information about who to contact in the event of an emergency, and what to do until help arrives.
- Always keep an easily accessible, up-to-date, and well-stocked First-Aid kit. Because the first few minutes are often critical during a medical emergency, this kit needs to be close by with the right supplies. Some churches include an automated external defibrillator (AED) in their kits.
- Your leadership may benefit from training such as Basic First-Aid, CPR, and AED (if you have one). Contact your Georgia church insurance program to find out about scheduling one of these trainings.
- When a serious emergency arises, injuries can be easily compounded by honest mistakes on the part of untrained people who try to help. Use caution when determining if an incident is minor or life threatening.
If you have determined that action should be taken, it’s time to carry that action out. The American College of Physicians recommends following these steps when responding to a medical emergency:
- Act Immediately. Ask someone to call for assistance if needed. Examine the injured person, and act quickly- but not so quickly that you overlook something or respond inappropriately.
- Check for breathing. If the individual isn’t breathing and you are trained to perform CPR, do so. Or, have someone locate an individual who can perform CPR.
- Stop bleeding. Using a snug bandage or dressing may slow or stop bleeding. You may also press firmly at the location that cuts off blood flow from the injured area.
- Check for shock. An individual in shock will have a rapid or weak pulse, may faint, and will appear drained of color with cold or moist skin. If you believe the injured person is in shock, have them sit or lie down and help them calm down with slow breathing.
- Splint broken bones. Any stiff object can be used to set an injury so that the joints are immobilized, and cloths or bandages can be used to wrap the object around the appendage.* Do not move the victim unless he or she is in immediate danger, as this can cause further injury. If they must be moved, use a stretcher and keep their head still.
- Treat burns. Minor burns can be soaked in cold water. Severe burns should be covered with a large, clean cloth and require immediate emergency attention.
- Bandage wounds. If bandaging awound is necessary, use sterile dressings from your First-Aid kit.
- If poisoning is a possibility, call the Nationwide Poisoning Center at (800) 222-1222.
GuideOne Georgia church insurance agency customers may purchase a Church Emergency Reference Guide, available for $15 ($30 for non-policyholders). This simple guide explains what to do during a variety of medical, fire, and severe weather emergencies. It comes with wall mounts so that you can place it in a prominent location in your church.
Following the Prevent, Prepare, Recognize, and Act plan can help you prevent injuries and even save lives. With a solid plan in place, your church can protect your congregation and staff and create a safer environment for everyone.