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Church trains safety teams using real life scenarios

"This is something that we do out of our love for our church and we want to spread that to other churches," said Tom Eichhorn, New Hope Eugene's Safety Team Co-Director.

Posted: Feb. 10, 2018 9:41 AM
Updated: Feb. 12, 2018 1:06 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- A church in Eugene is taking safety into their own hands, by having a team at ready to respond to any type of situation. They're hoping to share what they know to help churches across western Oregon have peace of mind.

The Safety Team at New Hope Eugene is at every church service, ready to respond to any type of situation.

"I nickname ours the sheepdogs. We're a bunch of sheep and they're dogs looking out for us," said New Hope Eugene Pastor Aaron Sutherland. 

They want to help other churches be ready too.

"This is something that we do out of our love for our church and we want to spread that to other churches," said New Hope's Safety Team Co-Director Tom Eichhorn.

He said they're providing free classes to churches across western Oregon, showing them how help people in crisis and those suffering from medical emergencies.

"Practice is so important, because it puts stress on you...the same type of stress that you would have in real life," said Eichhorn. 

He said the class they taught Thursday night was based on scenario training. It focuses on awareness and intervention, to prevent a violent incident from occurring.

"We have actors who create actual scenarios that we've encountered through our church here," said Eichhorn. One of those scenarios is someone coming into the church after having too much to drink.

The Safety Team in traing is tasked with finding him, but there are added obstacles. Eichhorn said they have people approaching them during the scenario, causing distractions. 

During each of the scenarios, the Safety Team's goal is to not let a person of crisis into the sanctuary, where hundreds of people sit during weekend services.

Another scenario they ran through, was someone with a backpack who was acting suspicious.

"It used to be something you didn't think about, but our world has changed," said Sutherland. He said the concern of violence inside a church has become all too real.

"The shooting in Texas really sparked the situation that we need to have our people safe," said Marc Strobel, the Pastor at River Road Baptist Church.

After the deadly shooting inside a Texas church last November, Strobel decided it was time for his church to have a Safety Team. He said that's when they began training with New Hope Eugene.

"This program is just amazing and we're just really grateful that this is available," said Strobel. 

It's a program that the congregation at New Hope said they're also grateful for.

"I have the utmost confidence in these guys and I feel safe every Sunday knowing that they're here," said Winston Arblaster, a member of New Hope. 

"I think every church could use some sheepdogs around," said Sutherland. 

If you're interested in attending a class, all you have to do is get in touch with New Hope Eugene, (click here for more information). 

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