It’s a scary world we live in. Mass shootings are becoming more common in places we thought they would never happen. As Christians we know “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Eph 6:12 NLT. Still as leaders of Christian radio stations we need to be prepared. A few years ago, I was doing my weekly group bike ride. A member of the local fire department happened to join us that day. He didn’t know who I was or where I worked. He shared with me his team was meeting with local authorities and they were analyzing possible high targets in the area. At the top of the list was our radio station! Yikes.
So what should you do as a station leader to prepare for the unthinkable? Here are some of my thoughts from what I have learned.
1. Conduct staff-wide training. Your staff needs to be ready. While I was in Houston we connected with local experts to provide training for possible attacks including mass shootings. Yes, there are companies out there who offer this. One of the members of this training team was a former member of the Secret Service. He conducted hands-on training with our entire staff and also individual training on what to do if an active shooter were present. One of his recommendations was to have wasp spray cans in our work area! Those sprays can be powerful. Beyond training make sure you do regular drills to prepare. I know we all work in radio and it can be hard to take things seriously or even do a drill seriously, but in today’s society, we need to prepare so we are better able to respond.
2. Make your front desk a fortress. How easy is it to access your building? How easy is it to get past the front desk into the offices or studios? Often, we have the nicest people at the front desk which puts them in a very vulnerable position. One procedure we implemented was a “fake intercom page” to alert the staff of trouble at the front desk. If the receptionist said “John Smith call on line 1 (I won’t say the real name)” then our team knew there was trouble at the front desk. Immediately, the appropriate people would respond to the front desk area.
3. Consider hiring a security guard. While it doesn’t take long for police to respond to situations, having a security guard on the premises offers another level of protection and let’s your staff know you care about their safety. I know there is expense involved, but we found the costs were very reasonable. Also, if costs are a concern, consider having the security guard work different hours each day rather than the same hours each day. Another option which is subject to state laws, what your organization thinks and also how much risk you will take, is to consider having trained designated people on staff who are allowed to carry. This is one item to discuss with your board, corporate leadership and your attorney for the best guidance.
4. Perform an overall facility assessment. Where is your building most susceptible? Do the doors all lock? Is there good lighting outside? Do you have security cameras outside and inside? Are there windows in the studio? If so, what type of glass do you have? Do you have fencing? What about your tower? Do you have a security system at your tower site? Do you have cameras there? An expert can help you look at your facility and help you determine the areas where you are vulnerable. In the past, I have friends who are policemen do this assessment for us for free.
5. Provide safe space for your staff to enter and leave the building – especially at night and overnights. Whether your station is located in the city or a rural area, unwanted visitors can show up. This can be a major concern when it is dark outside. A lighted path and quick access to the building can help. One idea is traveling in pairs where the outgoing or incoming person can meet that person at their car. Also, if you have a security service, this can be part of their service.
6. Pray for protection. As Christians we have one extra security device that you won’t find elsewhere. The power of prayer! We can pray for protection over our facility, our staff and our listeners. As we continue to share the light of Jesus through the airwaves, on-line and through events, we know we are making a difference. The battle is real. Let’s make sure all we do is covered in prayer.
Tim McDermott is the COO of PraiseLive. He loves seeing Christian radio stations grow and is available to help. He can be reached at [email protected]