XPastor tries to help churches by providing some of the essentials for running a church—items like job descriptions, employment applications, review forms and Policies. Below is the Building Emergency Response Team Policy from Westwood Baptist Church in Olympia, Washington.

The purpose of a Building Emergency Response Team (BERT) is to identify key disaster/emergency help in all Westwood facilities and establish procedures for the protection of people and property during building emergencies, whether man‐made or natural.

This plan includes:

  • Composition of an emergency response team (BERT) and identifies its leaders and members.
  • The responsibilities of this team.
  • The procedures for building emergencies.
  • Identification of building resources for assistance during an emergency.
  • Identify possible risk scenarios for Westwood services and events.

BERT Composition

  • BERT Coordinator (BTC)—Coordinates the assigning of BERT team members for Sundays and particular events. Is responsible to coordinate training for BERT members and works with, and under the direction of the Facilities Manager (FM) at all times.

Depending upon the building/functional area needs, the BERT will have a minimum of three people on duty:

  • BERT Leader (BTL)—Leads the BERT Team through the period as assigned on a Sunday or during an event. Reports to the Facilities Manager (FM) or his representative as necessary.
  • BERT Member(s)—BERT Members are volunteers who are assigned responsibility for certain areas or duties under direction of the BERT Leader (BTL) based upon the needs of the building schedule.


General Team Responsibilities

The main responsibilities of the BERT are:

  • To have a commitment to providing a safe environment during Sunday services and able to prepare for disaster/emergency situations as well. BERT training will occur at least semiannually, with regular practices of communication and drills facilitated by the BERT members.
  • To prepare and direct the building responses to all emergencies affecting the building until relieved of that duty by the City of Olympia fire and police departments.
  • To facilitate the plan to quickly evacuate and/or search the building.
  • Plan for lock down/security situation.
  • To assist church staff in accounting for all personnel in a disaster/emergency situation.
  • To develop a plan to quickly disseminate information about disaster/emergency procedures or warnings throughout the building (radios, intercoms).
  • To locate and learn to use all emergency equipment in the building, including:
    • Exits and stairways.
    • Fire extinguishers.
    • Building shutoffs for gas, water, electricity, and other utilities.
    • First‐aid kits and AED’s.
    • All other emergency equipment related to special uses of the building (kitchens).
    • The use of emergency equipment will only be required when emergency response personnel cannot respond immediately. Such a case would be a damaging earthquake that affects a large area requiring multiple responses at once.

Assembly Area Locations for Evacuations

Assembly locations are shown in Annex A. They are located in the baseball field in back of the church and parking areas at the front of the church.

BERT Members will work with the BERT Leader (BTL) to insure that all staff and visitors are alerted to any disaster/emergency situation and are directed to the nearest exit for evacuation, if necessary, or whatever other steps are required to ensure their safety.

  • All buildings must have a predetermined assembly location for people who evacuate buildings so all staff and visitors are accounted for and not left behind.
  • BERT Leaders should check with building/area staff to ensure that everyone is accounted for following an evacuation.

Functional Responsibilities of the BERT Coordinator

The responsibilities of the BERT Coordinator are:

To train members for the response of the BERT to all major emergencies.

  • To know the Members of the BERT and how to contact them at work and at home. To maintain and periodically update a directory of this information.
  • To maintain a Building Emergency Response Plan that includes assigning of duties to BERT Members.
  • To develop a working roster for assignments of BERT Members to duties on Sundays or special events.
  • To know and be able to demonstrate to others the use of all emergency equipment in the building.
  • To coordinate with Facilities Manager and/or Elder board members to facilitate the emergency response plan.

Functional Responsibilities of the BERT Leader (BTL)

The responsibilities of the BERT Leader are:

  • To implement the decisions of the BERT Coordinator during an emergency and to assume command of the emergency response in his or her absence.
  • To know the kinds of activities that take place in the building, the people in charge of those activities, and the possible emergency situations that might arise from them.
  • To periodically rehearse a plan to evacuate the building.
  • To know and assist in the maintenance of the Building Emergency Response Plan.
  • To know the normal location of all other occupants in the building whose special knowledge and/or responsibility might be valuable in an emergency (e.g. custodial staff, as well as building occupants who have had police, fire, emergency medical training, etc.)
  • To know the location and operation of all critical utility shut‐offs in the building.

Functional Responsibilities of the BERT Member

The responsibilities of the BERT Member are:

  • To follow the direction of the BTL during any Sunday activity or special function and assist in evacuation and/or security responses.
  • To function as a security/emergency response coordinator for an assigned section of the building.
  • To know the kinds of activities that take place on Sundays, the people in charge of those activities, and the possible emergency situations that might arise from them.
  • To know the circulation paths for the entire building, including basement areas and roof (e.g. stairways, elevators, corridors, exits, etc.)

General BERT Disaster and/or Emergency Procedures

Medical Emergency

BERT Leader/Member response:

If you discover a medical emergency:

  • Avoid leaving the injured/ill person except to summon help.
  • Do not move the person unless he/she is in danger.
  • Render first aid or CPR if trained and qualified. Those trained will know the location and proper use of personal protective equipment necessary to avoid contact with potentially infectious body fluids.
  • If you are exposed to another’s body fluids, inform Emergency Medical personnel when they arrive.

Security/Lockdown/Active Shooter

BERT Leader/Member Situation:

BERT Members patrol hallways of buildings and discover suspicious individual(s) not part of the normal activities.

What you should look for to determine if an individual is suspicious:

  • Loitering in children’s wing with no purpose.
  • Peering into windows or doors.
  • Inappropriate language or gestures.


  • Notify BERT Leader
  • Ask the individual if you can help them with anything.
  • Escort the individual to their class or to the Worship Center.
  • Escort the individual from the building if it is determined that they have no purpose in being there.
  • If individual is non-cooperative, then BTL should be notified and a 911 call may be required.

BERT Leader/Member Situation:

Suspicious individual is found to be carrying a weapon.

  • Contact BTL who, in turn, will make a 911 call.
  • Put entire campus into Lockdown procedure (Lockdown procedure explained below).
  • Keep individual occupied until OPD can arrive and take over the situation.
  • Once individual has been removed from the campus then secure from Lockdown and evacuate the building as necessary.

Lockdown procedure:

  • Classrooms lock doors from inside; drop shades on door windows and outer windows.
  • Turn on emergency radios in classrooms. Children and adults move to walls without windows.
  • BERT members check all assigned hallways to insure lockdown takes place.
  • Worship Center—participants stay seated (per announcement) and ushers locate themselves at each exit door.
  • Admin offices—close and lock each door. Drop blinds on windows.
  • All clear message will be put out by the BERT Members through intercom or written message.

Response to Active shooter:

  • Call 911. Determine location of shooter with description. Put campus in Lockdown.
  • Direct Police and other response teams to the shooter location.
  • Once Police have given the all clear, assist in evacuating the building and accounting for all personnel and classes.

Bombs and Explosives

All Staff Response:


  • The possibility of a bomb threat may arise at any time. Because of the potential danger to the public, it is imperative that each employee of Westwood responds to the situation in the safest and most efficient manner. Therefore, it is necessary that the following procedures be carefully followed, except in those instances where the situation may dictate a different course of action.
  • The Olympia Police require that all areas affected by a bomb threat be evacuated until a decision is rendered to resume normal activities. Any exception to the mandatory evacuation will be determined by the Police Department. An exception may be granted based upon location of the threat and available intelligence information. Should an actual bomb detonate, the area affected will be secured until the City Police have prosecuted this area as a crime scene.


Any staff receiving notice of a possible bomb should attempt to get as much information as possible from the caller. While most callers will not stay on the line long enough to answer all of these questions, it is important that this information be obtained to assist the searchers. In addition, the person receiving the call should attempt to make note of any background noises that could help identify or locate the caller or indicate whether the call is a prank.

Following is an outline of the most valuable information to obtain.

  • Information to ask the caller/suspect:
    • When is the bomb going to explode?
    • Where is it right now?
    • What does it look like?
    • What kind of bomb is it?
    • What will cause it to explode?
    • Did you place the bomb?
    • Why?
    • What is your address?
    • What is your name?
  • When the call is over, immediately jot down the exact wording of the threat or any information given by the caller.
  • Call the Police Department (911) immediately to report the threat.
  • Be prepared to provide the following information about the caller:
    • Sex of caller: Male, Female, Unknown
    • Race: White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, other/describe
    • Age
    • Length of call
    • Caller’s voice: calm, angry, excited, slow, rapid, soft, loud, laughter, crying, normal, distinct, slurred, whispered, nasal, stutter, lisp, raspy, deep, ragged
    • Clearing throat, deep breathing, cracking voice, disguised, accent, familiar, harsh, high, other/describe
    • If voice is familiar, whom did it sound like?
    • Background sounds: Street noises, crockery, voices, PA system, music, house noises, children, motor, office machinery, factory machinery, animal noises, clear, static, local, long distance, booth, other/describe
    • Threat language: Well‐spoken (educated), foul, irrational, incoherent, taped, message read by threat maker, other/describe
  • The Police Department will also need the following information:
    • Phone number at which call was received
    • Time
    • Date
    • Your name
    • Position
    • Phone number where you can be re‐contacted immediately
  • Notifications:
    • Anyone receiving information concerning a bomb shall notify the Police Department by dialing 911.
    • After notifying 911, the person receiving the call should notify their supervisor or other individual in charge of the building. If on a Sunday, the BERT Leader should be notified.
  • Response:
    • OPD will respond immediately to the report.
    • BERT Response: Those identified as BERT Leader and Members should begin building evacuation procedures (See evacuation procedure below)
    • Upon arrival of OPD and under their direction, a building search will begin.
    • Suspected item located:
      • Any suspected item shall be reported immediately to an OPD officer.
      • The on‐scene BERT Leader shall assure that the building and immediate area is evacuated. All personnel shall be evacuated and moved away from the area to a safer distance, no less than 300 feet and possibly further. Consultation with the Police Department for distance recommendations may be necessary.
    • No suspected item is located:
      • If after an initial search has been completed and no suspect item(s) has been located, the OPD supervisor in charge of the incident shall attempt to locate the BERT Leader in charge of the facility to notify them of the status.
      • A decision will be made at that time as to when to allow persons to reenter the facility.
    • Evacuation: All non‐essential personnel should be immediately advised of the threat. All non‐essential personnel should immediately evacuate the building or area until advised that it is safe to return unless otherwise instructed by OPD personnel. Personal belongings should be removed upon evacuation. Evacuated personnel should go to a pre‐designated assembly point at least 300 feet from the affected area. Supervisors should account for all personnel at the assembly point. No one should be allowed entry or return to the building until directed to do so by OPD.

Chemical Spill

All Staff Response

BERT Member—If you discover a chemical spill:

  • Where there is a release, fire, or explosion which could threaten human health and safety.
  • Immediately inform all to leave the area.
  • Send someone to call 911.
    • Any injuries.
    • Type and amount of chemical spilled.
  • Have the exposed person remove all contaminated clothing, if it can be done safely. If the chemical comes in contact with any person:
    • If there is contact with a person’s eyes, rinse eyes with water for at least 15 minutes.
    • If there is contact with a person’s skin, rinse thoroughly under water and then:
      • Wash with soap and water.
      • Seek medical attention.
    • Do not clean up any chemical spill without proper training.


BERT Leader Response:

Earthquake shaking is felt in the building.

  • When the shaking starts, take cover immediately drop, cover, and hold, and urge others to do likewise.
  • After the shaking stops, set a good example; act calmly.
  • If the situation is not serious and the phones are working, remain at your normal workstation and request updates.
  • If the phones are not working, or if the situation otherwise appears likely to require evacuation, go to the building assembly area.
  • Instruct the BERT Members to evacuate; return or release building personnel as required.
  • Assist BERT Members in the floor evacuation response. If none are on the scene, appoint temporary replacements.
  • Instruct staff members in the EOC to call the BERT Members for status reports.
  • If it is necessary to evacuate and the phones are working, make certain the BERT Member(s) know:
    • Location and status of any relevant secondary hazards.
    • Where to relocate.
    • Which stairwells to use.
    • How and where to report back when the relocation is completed.
    • When the decision is made, the BERT Leader shall instruct the BERT Members to release, relocate, or return building personnel as needed.

BERT Member Response:

Earthquake shaking is felt in the building.

When the shaking starts, take cover immediately drop, cover, and hold and urge others to do likewise.

  • After the shaking stops, set a good example, act calmly.
  • Check your floor for secondary hazards (fire, toxic spills, etc.) If found, clear the immediate area of all personnel and eliminate the hazards if safe to do so, or seek assistance.
  • Check your floor personnel for injuries, triage, and treat as best as possible. Move the seriously injured only if in danger from aftershocks or secondary hazards. Capture and send a report on the condition of your building, ability to function, and health of personnel.
  • Determine if the phones are working, but do not use unless absolutely necessary.
    • Call 911.
    • If your phone is out, but others are working on the floor, inform the BERT Leader of your new number and stand by for instructions.
    • If no phones are working on the floor, evacuate floor personnel as a precautionary measure.
    • If there is immediate danger from secondary hazards, evacuate everyone, including seriously injured.
    • If there is no immediate danger, stay with the seriously injured, evacuate all other personnel, and send assistant to the BERT Leader for help.
  • If you must evacuate, have assistants check that the stairwells are passable to at least the next floor closer to the ground level. Instruct personnel to gather keys, purses, etc. and wait near cover until the go‐ahead signal is given. Do not let personnel congregate in the corridors.
  • When clear to relocate, instruct personnel to exit the building and have them gather in the predetermined assembly area.
  • Check that all areas, including restrooms, are empty. Start with areas farthest from the stairwells in use and search towards the stairwells.
  • Be the last to leave your floor.
  • When personnel are relocated and accounted for, report back to the BERT Leader at the pre-arranged location.


All Staff Response:

If it is determined that there is smoke or a fire in any building, the following procedures must be adhered to:

  • Pull the nearest fire alarm box and call 911.
  • Send someone to meet the Fire Department. If the fire can be safely contained and you have been trained, use fire extinguishers. If it cannot be confined through this means, confine the area by closing doors and leave the building at once. When the alarm sounds:
  • Ensure that all students and staff who need assistance are helped to evacuate the building.
  • BERT personnel will assist with the building evacuation.
  • Use the nearest stairways; DO NOT USE THE ELEVATORS.
  • Assemble the personnel away from the building at the pre‐determined assembly location.
  • If you believe that someone is still inside the building, notify a member of the Fire Department. DO NOT RE‐ENTER THE BUILDING YOURSELF.

BERT Leader Response:

After evaluation, assess the seriousness of the situation.

  • Consult with the Emergency Coordinator and/or Fire officials as necessary.
  • Instruct the BERT Member to return or release building personnel as required.
  • Initiate and assist the floor evacuation response by the BERT. If none are on the scene, appoint temporary replacements.
  • Inform the BERT Building Lead of the situation.
  • Evacuate all rooms and make certain the BERT Members know:
    • Location and status of the fire.
    • Where to relocate.
    • Which stairwells to use.
    • How and where to report back when the relocation is completed.
    • When the decision is relayed to the BERT Leader by the Fire Department, instruct the BERT Members to release, relocate, or return building personnel as needed.

BERT Member Response:

  • Assess the situation. If safe to do so, extinguish the fire with portable extinguishers only if you have been trained in their safe operation.
  • Without waiting for authorization, instruct all personnel to evacuate the floor using the nearest stairwell free of smoke.
    • Prohibit the