At my local church we celebrated “Join Up July” for the entire month. This means we went from two Sunday morning services to one and all children were in service alongside their parents. My wife and I usually sit towards the back because our one year old doesn’t yet know the difference between his inside voice and playtime voice.
Last Sunday, as I listened to the message my Pastor was preaching, I was alarmed to here a dispatcher saying, “911, what’s your emergency?” I looked around not knowing where this was coming from. I saw nothing and no one out of place but quickly heard the dispatcher repeat herself. When she did not get a response, she hung up only for me to realize moments later that call was coming from my watch.
Did I mention I have a one year old?
I was sitting with my arm around the back of my wife’s seat and my son could easily access my Apple Watch. I couldn’t believe it! My son called 911!
I was close by an exit door, so I waited for 911 to call me back to confirm either an emergency or an accidental call but my phone never rang. A few minutes later I received a text from a security team member asking if I had called 911. I let him know what happened but assumed that 911 saw the call was coming from inside the church and called them before calling me. That’s not at all what happened. A family sitting two rows behind me heard the 911 dispatcher and alerted a security team member. After confirming with me that I (my son) made the call and that there was no emergency, the team member called 911 to let them know what had happened.
Thankfully there was no emergency because I quickly realized that help was not coming!
911 was dialed from inside a church building on a Sunday morning during church service but when the dispatcher got no response she hung up and never called back.
From the time the first call was made to the time the second call was made to confirm the first was an accident, seven minutes had passed. Our security was made aware that no emergency responders had been dispatched during that time. No one was coming to help.
According to fbi.gov the average response time to a high priority 911 call is 5-7 minutes, depending on the variables of your city. Couple that with the average time of 5 minutes or less that an active shooter is active, and what do you get? The possibility of a mass shooting paired with complete pandemonium.
Again, I am so thankful there was no emergency and no one was in need of an emergency response team, but the moral of this story is: backup is not coming. You are the emergency response team and everything depends on you.
There’s no waiting for someone else to save you or stop the threat. That’s what you’ve trained for and this is why scenario training is a must! This is why watching, listening and responding is always the right thing to do.
To be clear, I have tremendous respect for our first responders. Honoring our law enforcement goes without question. This incident is not about what anyone did wrong. This is about me and it’s about you. This is an eye opening scenario that could easily happen to you because it did happen to me. I’m sharing this simply to create awareness and importance of your role as a security officer or team member.
While I commit to keeping a closer eye on what my son is doing, I hope you’ll commit to leading a team that is always prepared in any situation, to be the first responder team and the backup team so that your house of worship is a safe house.