Here is an update on what the Emergency Preparedness and Safety Team has been doing. In early 2018, a board task force was formed to address our lack of emergency preparedness for high-impact, low-probability catastrophic events. Since then many things have been done to prevent and mitigate the potential impact of such an event.
We have partnered with the Montclair Police Department and on three separate occasions members of the Montclair PD Critical Response Team toured our building and made specific suggestions regarding how we can better safeguard our facility. We implemented all of their ideas:
- Dropdown shades were added to classroom windows and classroom doors can now be locked from the inside.
- All exterior doors were labeled with letters on the inside and out to better identify to the police where threats may be.
- Improved maps of UUCM’s building, including new door labels, were created and copies hung in sleeves next to interior doors for guidance in the event of an evacuation. The police have been furnished with these maps and exterior keys.
- Temporary intercoms were also installed in every room in the building to improve communication within the building in the event of an emergency.
On May 10, 2019, we also filed a grant application with the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness for funds to install a FOB-based access control system including a video intercom for entry to two doors and notification for doors improperly opened or left ajar. In addition we have also asked for funds for a CCTV system to monitor and record our building’s many entrances when it is not in use. An additional grant proposal is being written for a more permanent facility-wide public address system. These grants are being written by Warren Marshall with valuable assistance from Peter Arian, Danielle Carlo, and Reverend Scott.
Most importantly, congregational leaders have begun to be trained on how to prevent and respond to an armed intruder. UUCM leaders, including Reverends Scott Sammler-Michael and Anya Sammler-Michael, Lily Rappaport, greeters and RE teachers, have all attended one of two training sessions where they were provided with written “Emergency Preparedness Procedures” and updated maps. Members of the Emergency Preparedness and Safety Team have also attended various training sessions provided by the NJ Department of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
Houses of worship should be sanctuaries, safe from violence of any kind. The UUCM Emergency Preparedness and Safety Team is working to make this happen, and looks forward to including the congregation in the coming months. A critical part of any emergency plan is advance communication to all who might be involved; every single one of us needs to understand what to do if an emergency strikes! Questionnaires and info sessions are coming soon – please stay tuned!
We are your Emergency Preparedness and Safety Team Members:
Mary Moriarty, Marcia Mandel, Ami Brabson, Peg Seip, Warren Marshall, David Hanley, Laura Anthony, Lily Rappaport, and Reverend Scott with leadership from Doug Andrews, Peter Arian, and Kitty Cullina- Bessey.