As we continue looking at integrating church safety and security in to your church design, we present some statistics we’ve seen on the most common types of emergencies that occur in churches, and the time it takes for first responders to arrive. Again, we present this information not as experts on safety but because we want to help church leaders prepare with church designs that meet the needs of various safety situations that could and do occur.

Average Emergency Response Times for Cities and Rural Areas

We found research on average police response times in ten large American cities (where data was readily available). What it shows is troubling. The city with the quickest average response time was San Francisco, with less than 5½ minutes (5.46 minutes, to be exact). Houston was not far behind, at 5.51, but the numbers go up from there, with Los Angeles at 6.1 and New York City at 6.69. Seattle had an average response time of 9 minutes and Fort Worth was 9.5. A lot can happen in almost ten minutes if there’s an active shooter or other criminal activity occurring.

Looking at medical emergencies, the average overall EMT response time we saw was 7 minutes, but the stats went as high as 30 minutes in rural areas. This is because many rural emergency services (firefighters, EMTs) are volunteers, so when a call goes out, they have to leave their home, or work, go to the fire house, get in the emergency vehicle, and from there navigate to the church that is facing the crisis.

The Most Common Emergencies in Your Church Building

Most emergencies in your church building will be medical in nature. In fact, the yearly stats for emergencies in all locations nationwide (not just churches) show that strokes and heart attacks are the most frequent. There are 790,000 heart attacks in the US each year, and roughly half, or almost 400,000, of those result in full cardiac arrest.

Part of the reason is the time it takes for EMS help to arrive. Therefore, we always encourage church leaders to have a team of people who know CPR and can use an automated external defibrillator or AED. If you install AEDs in your church building and train people to use them, you have a much-improved chance of saving lives.

Planning for Multiple Emergencies in Your Church Building

Finally, it’s important to recognize that while relatively rare, emergencies caused by violence can occur, often with multiple victims. While it’s easier to focus on CPR and AEDs, your church safety team should also be prepared to handle other emergency situations that could arise.

Personal injuries (slipping and falling on ice, for example) are another of the most common emergencies, and a reason that churches end up in court. We’ll have more on how the legal system impacts church safety in our next post. Stay tuned for that, and for our list of free 2020 i3 webinars, which will be revealed soon.