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Call - Answer - Monitor

Communications Equipment and Supplies

Essential Equipment for Church Safety Teams

Featuring Items from the Sheepdog Church Security Store [1]

Man speaking into walkie talkie

In th Bible

In the Bible we have examples of communication. The technology of communication is different today from what it was then, but the kinds of communication are the same. In these passages, we see communication used for (1) calling to attention, (2) requesting information, (3) relaying orders, (4) calling for help, and (5) warning of danger.

1. And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” (1 Samuel 3:10)

2. Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king's eunuchs, who had been appointed to attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what this was and why it was. (Esther 4:5)

3. And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, ...’” (Joshua 1:10-12)

4. And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp in Gilgal, saying, “Do not relax your hand from your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us and help us." (Joshua 10:6)

5. Now the son of Paul's sister heard of their ambush, so he went and entered the barracks and told Paul. (Acts 23:16)


Communication - Key to Coordination

The responsibility of security in churches, protecting the flock, falls to a Church Safety/Security Ministry (by whatever name) and the Safety/Security Team. "Team" is a collective noun - many viewed as one, plural treated as singular. This means that although the Team has several members, they act as one by coordinating their actions. But just as the nervous system coordinates parts of the body, communication makes it possible for a team of several individual members to act as one.

Means of Communication

There are several ways to communicate: speaking one-on-one, speaking to or as a group, signals, sign language, writing, mental telepathy (all right - that last one is off the chart). Several of these ways can be enhanced through technology - for instance: clicks on telegraph, talking on a landline phone, talking and texting on mobile phones, email, faxing, social media, television, radio.

Safety Team Communication

As a matter of necessity, not all team members are together except for team meetings. We have to be covering different locations within and around the church. Therefore we need a reliable means of communicating, especially during developing and ongoing situations, as well as alerts and notification of incidents.

Fifty or sixty years ago, this could have been an in-house telephone system with a phone in each room or key area. Dial the number for that room, and anyone there could answer. Then two-way radios (walkie-talkies) became more available and affordable. At first mostly used to communicate between vehicles on the road, they are now common for in-house communication in factories, in warehouses, on spread-out worksites, in large retail stores, among restaurant staff, etc.

Radio systems are now used by safety teams in churches, even small ones, to keep members in touch with each other. In some places, they are also used by church staff. There are good reasons for using radios. In a new document, Essential Equipment, Kris Moloney lists a few:

In the church, using a radio system can connect more than members of the Safety Tea. By using more than one channel, it can connect to classrooms, the office, other campus buildings, and the platform. With different channels they can keep a conversation among the team, share information with the pastoral staff, or alert teachers or the nursery.

Using Radios

The Sheepdog Church Security training course "Church Safety and Security Volunteer Academy" [3] gives guidelines on the use of radios in a church safety ministry. This includes etiquette, using plain English, and using approved codes.

Going on, what radios do we use? Three radios/systems are recommended - two-way radios, wireless intercom and weather radio. Also recommended are accessories for the two-way radios.

Selecting Two-way Radios

The obvious question is, "What is a good, reliable, and affordable two-way radio system our team can use?" Kris Maloney, founder of Sheepdog Church Security, recommends the Midland GXT1000VP4 [1.a] as "reliable and durable." Among other features it has waterproof protection, a 36-mile rage, privacy codes, and NOAA weather scans and alerts. The batteries are rechargeable. These are sold in pairs, but can be consolidated into a system.

Headsets

Earpieces are highly recommended for use in church. For one thing, they do not distract others in a class, ceremony, or worship service. For another, they keep what you hear confidential. Compatible with the GXT1000VP4 are the Midland AVPH3 Transparent Security Headsets [1.b]. The headset itself is transparent, therefore not unduly distracting. Like the two-way radios, it comes in pairs.

Ear Inserts

Having the right ear inserts helps you hear more clearly. Also, having the right sizes makes them more comfortable, easier to use for several hours at a time. Compatible with the Midland headsets are the Semi-Custom Open Ear Inserts by TCG [1.c]. These do not completely block the ear, meaning that you can still hear what is going on around you. They come in packs of three, in three sizes (Small, Medium, and Large).

Intercom

Most of us already know what an intercom is, since generations have gone to schools where the office could contact any classroom or activity center and make an announcement specifically for that room. For example: "Mrs. Jones, please send Jed Brown to the Nurse's Station." With an intercom in the church, the church staff or the Safety Team lead person can send a message or question to a classroom or the nursery. Even better is when the teacher can answer back, or call the office.

Decades ago, all intercoms were connected the rooms by wires. Now there are wireless intercoms, such as the one Kris recommends: the Wireless Intercom System Hosmart [1.d]. This is available on Amazon at less than $68 for two stations, $138 for four, or $200 for six. More stations can be added to the network to include more rooms. Being wireless and having rechargeable battery power, it can operate even when the power is out, the same advantage as two-way radios. Two-way radios can connect if they use "the same digital channel code."

Communication with children's Sunday School classrooms, pre-school child care areas, and nurseries helps in preventing child abuse and abduction. This is a valuable role for intercoms, as well as notifications of lockdowns and evacuations. As with the two-way radios, etiquette and clear speech must be used.

Weather Radio

Severe weather is a reality no matter where you are in the country. The kind and intensity vary by location. For instance, this year there have been tornadoes, hail, hurricanes, a nor'easter, snowstorms, floods, wildfires, extreme heat, and extreme cold. Some weather events, such as tornadoes, have little warning, while some, such as hurricanes and nor'easters, are tracked for more than a week before impact. Prudence means taking reasonable precautions.

If conditions develop rapidly - as with tornadoes, wildfires, and flash flooding - we need immediate notice. Emergency services, such as FEMA and state agencies, recommend weather radios for news and alerts. These alerts include general advisories, watches, and warnings.

Sheepdog Church Security recommends the MIDLAND WR300 Weather Radio [1.e]. It can receive all NOAA weather channels. It uses Specific Area Message Encoding (S.A.M.E.), which means it receives alerts specific to its location. It also has an AM/FM radio and a clock. To one side of the display are three lights to indicate the nature of an alert: Warning, Watch, or Advisory.

This is a desktop unit, more likely to be kept in an office. Therefore, it should be where it can be monitored. If the safety team has the GXT1000VP4 two-way radios described above, team members can receive alerts on their individual units. However, when there are no services, classes, or events, but staff are in the church office (such as during the week), they can receive weather alerts on the weather radio, allowing them to take appropriate action.

Conclusion

Communication is critical to the success of a safety team in a developing emergency situation. Having the right equipment for this will contribute to its efficiency.

References

  1. Sheepdog Church Security Store [https://www.amazon.com/shop/instructor_moloney]:
  2. Midland GXT1000VP4 Two-Way Radio [https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001WMFYH4/?ref=exp_instructor_moloney_lv_dp_vv_d],
  3. Midland AVPH3 Transparent Security Headsets [https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000CNAEEW/?]ref=exp_instructor_moloney_lv_dp_vv_d],
  4. Semi-Custom Open Ear Inserts [https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000CNAEEW/?ref=exp_instructor_moloney_lv_dp_vv_d],
  5. Wireless Intercom System Hosmart [https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M7YOM6S/?ref=exp_instructor_moloney_lv_dp_vv_d],
  6. Midland WR300 Weather Radio [https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00009V2YV/?ref=exp_instructor_moloney_lv_dp_vv_d].
  7. Moloney, K., "Essential Equipment", Sheepdog Church Security, 2018
  8. Sheepdog Church Security, "Church Safety and Security Volunteer Academy", [https://sheepdogchurchsecurity.lpages.co/church-safety-and-security-volunteer-academy/].