An important part of the mission of the Catholic Church is to reach out to all of those who are suffering or need support.
To fulfill one aspect of that goal, the Archdiocese of San Francisco is pleased to commit its many resources to the service of the community in any major emergency which might arise. The church of the Archdiocese is blessed to have within it many talented and generous people, numerous facilities and an efficient infrastructure of communications, coordination and social services. In the event of disaster or crisis, whether in a local area or wider geographic region, the facilities and resources of the Church will be available to assist in serving the needs of the affected community. The Church’s staffs will be pleased to be included in the coordinated efforts of civil authorities and volunteer groups which are organized for crisis response.
There are two broad categories of emergencies which may call for our assistance. The first is a regional disaster, i.e. an earthquake, which would affect a wide area. The second is a localized emergency, i.e. flood, fire, aircraft crash, etc.
In a regional disaster e.g. an earthquake, the following structure will be put in place:
The Archdiocesan Emergency Center will be located in the Chancery Office at: One Peter Yorke Way, San Francisco – Phone: 415-614-5500 –
The Center will be staffed by:
The Archbishop’s Cabinet members
The Director of Catholic Charities
A representative of the St. Vincent de Paul Society The Archdiocesan Building Department staff
Each Dean will have coordination and oversight responsibility for the parishes in his Deanery.
Each Pastor will be responsible for developing and implementing Emergency Response Plans for his parish.
The primary purpose for this structure is to provide clear lines of responsibility and communication. At each level judgments and decisions have to be made and effectively communicated. In any emergency (depending on the specific elements of the disaster) a wide variety of responses are required. It is, therefore, essential that the leadership on the scene evaluate the needs, determine the appropriate response, and mobilize the resources required to address the needs.
It is also essential that, at the appropriate time, a status report be communicated to the Dean and through him to the Chancery Command Center.
1. The Archdiocesan Command Center Personnel shall:
- make and communicate policy decisions, e.g. school closure
- direct resources to areas of need.
- answer questions from parishes, schools, etc.
- receive assessment reports from Deaneries and Parishes, e.g. number of injuries, extent of property damage, etc.
- when appropriate communicate with State, County and/or City emergency staffs.
2. The Deans shall:
- be the principal communications link between the Archdiocesan Center and the parishes and institutions in his Deanery.
- as soon as feasible initiate a process of assessment of parishes and institutions in his Deanery. The evaluation should include deaths, injuries, property damage, etc.
- in the case of serious structural damage make judgements as to whether facilities should be occupied or used pending further examination by professionals.
- assist in obtaining and/or coordinating any assistance that might be needed in parishes, schools or other church institutions.
3. The Pastor and/or Parish Team shall:
- implement the parish emergency plan.
- A plan should be developed to deal with an emergency situation which might develop during a service in the church or an event being held in a parish hall.
- Parish School and School of Religion Administration and staff should develop and implement a plan to care for students in the event of a disaster.
- The Parish Staff should immediately check on all persons on the parish property in church, school, etc.
- if necessary shut off all gas and water valves.
- examine all buildings and/or grounds for damage or hazardous conditions.
- if needed offer parish facilities for use as shelter for people in the community.
- mobilize parish personnel and/or resources for response to local needs.
- be responsive to any request for assistance from local police and fire personnel.
Local disasters may be fires, floods, explosions, plane crashes, etc.
In these situations parish facilities and personnel may be valuable helps to the local authorities and communities. Facilities may be needed for temporary shelter, for medical triage centers, command centers for police, fire or other emergency personnel.
The Pastor and Parish Staff should work closely with the local authorities in offering the services of the parish.
The Dean should respond to the problem areas and make himself available to the parish in which the crisis exists. As soon as possible the Dean should provide a report to the appropriate Archdiocesan authorities.