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Purpose of a Disaster plan

To prepare a team of chaplains for natural or man-made disasters so that they can offer community and government authorities chaplains to assist in energy and disaster situations 

Definitions

What is a disaster?

The American Red Cross defines a disaster as an emergency that causes the loss of life and property, and a disruption in which survivors cannot manage without spiritual, monetary, or physical assistance. Disasters may be human-made (e.g., terrorism, industrial accidents) or natural (hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, etc.). 

Four phases of disaster

1. Rescue. The primary task is to save lives and property. Essential personnel include emergency medical, firefighting and law enforcement professionals. Nonprofessionals may be able to give first aid and call for help. Chaplains may be called on to supply Spiritual care.

2. Relief. The major task is to create safe and sanitary conditions for survivors and emergency personnel attending to them. Faith communities may provide clothing, food, shelter, health care, and pastoral response.

3. Short-term recovery. The major tasks include damage assessment, restoration of utilities, temporary repair, reestablishment of communications, and maintenance of civic order.

4. Long-term recovery. Principal tasks are rebuilding lives and communities, conducting grief counseling and dealing with the physical, emotional and spiritual unmet needs.

 

Spiritual Care

During the rescue faze chaplains can be used to supply spiritual and emotional care to victims as follows

1.     Asses the survivors that are not in the need of immediate medical attention

2.     Dealing with family separation

3.     Death notification

4.     Comforting the bereaved

5.     Recommendations for further mental health attention

This is usually accomplished from and in conjunction with a First Responder or Crises command post or hospital in the area.

Having Chaplains on the Crises team has so many advantages that many goverment and private organizations have not only recognized this but are now asking for chaplains.

Note: The following is an article writen by my Head Chaplain at the Hospital where I am a Chaplain. I so appreciate James Richardson and his wonderful caring spirit. Director OCA William Dillon 

GUILT

     There are various human emotions that are distressing and painful, but few affect us as much as the pain of guilt.  Almost everyone experiences guilt in their lifetime.  Guilt involves awareness that a person’s action or inaction has injured someone else.  Acceptance of personal guilt may be followed by feelings of conviction.  Sometimes guilt motivates a person to make amends, to confess and seek forgiveness, and to change their thinking and behavior. 

     Like frustration and anger, guilt can slow down or totally inhibit an individual’s progress, and at times, it can completely restrain his/her thinking and actions.  When guilt is repressed, it can eventually take control of every aspect of a person’s life.  It can totally dominate the thinking process, decrease motivation and productivity, undermine self-esteem and sense of worth, and crush any hopes and dreams.   Each day can become more troubling and depressing.  A mother, Karen Lang, wrote the following about her experience with guilt:  One night after my nine-year-old son had just gone to bed, he asked me if I would lie down with him, as he was scared. I was getting ready for a busy week and was tired, so I replied, “No, you’re fine. Go to sleep.”

     When he died the following afternoon after being hit by a car, I remembered what he’d asked me. The guilt that followed me from that day on was overwhelming.  The guilt I felt after my son died burdened me for several years. Every anniversary, I would go over and over what I hadn’t done during those last few days before his death.  I would remember every conversation, every request. The guilt beat me up, it made me replay my mistakes, and it wasted enormous amounts of my energy, re-enacting how I could have done something differently. It made me feel bad even when I didn’t feel bad!

     I think one of the reasons it was so hard to give up and let go of my guilt was because I felt the need to push myself after his death for all the things I hadn’t done in his life. I would pretend that if I had made different choices, I could have changed that day. People would remind me of all the things I had done for my son and the wonderful life and love he was given, but it wasn’t enough for me. I constantly questioned why I hadn’t done more. After a few years, I realized that guilt was consuming me and in order for me to move on, I needed to find a way to let go and forgive myself. I was weighed down because I was living a life consumed by the past. Guilt did not allow me to be fully present with my family, or to see all the good that I had in my life then and now.

     Studies have proven that many are helped with their guilt when involved in the religious practices of church, prayer and reading the Scriptures.  A discussion with a minister, rabbi, priest, or other religious leader can be very supportive for processing feelings of guilt.  Still, there are others who may also need the assistance of a psychologist in an individual or group therapy setting for finding peace and healing in their struggle with guilt.

**********************

By His Grace,

James

Rev. James Richardson, Chaplain

CHAPLAINCY IN CRISIS MODE

How do you hug a grieving 16-year-old mother who is all alone and just lost her 13-day old baby girl from 6 feet away? How do you show an encouraging smile to a staff member who is overwhelmed and terrified they are placing their loved ones at risk from behind a mask? How do you connect lonely patients with worried family members through closed doors? How do you chaplain in crisis mode?

My name is Brittney Diamond Dool, but in the hospital, they call me Chaplain Diamond. My middle name became an image of not only the journey that I am on but the journey of transformation from coal to diamond that I am called to walk with those around me, especially those that are in crisis. I am a licensed minister in the United Pentecostal Church International and have been co-pastoring with my father, Rev. Richard E. Dool, for over 4 ½ years. I knew God had called me to chaplaincy, but God was taking me through an unconventional route – I did not go to bible college; I did not attend seminary.

So, how did this small-town preacher’s kid end up as Chaplain Diamond? By the grace of God, a long waiting period, surrounding myself with wise counsel, and walking through the doors He opened, I found myself in the middle my most transformative year to date. Being raised in a minister’s home and thrown into the responsibilities of a home missions church at the age of nine brought with it ministry and social services training in the “school of hard knocks.” However, nothing quite prepared me for walking into a chaplain residency at a Level I Trauma Center.

This residency was explicitly designed to challenge your view of self and the world; to determine what true faith, hope, and compassion mean; and extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ inward and outward. It was designed to challenge your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual being – to take everything you knew as a minister, turn it on its head, throw you in the middle of a crisis and help you find yourself and God. That would have been challenging enough, but we entered unprecedented times and a pandemic.

A CRISIS OF PANDEMIC PROPORTIONS

The new year rang just like any other year – a game night with friends, fireworks at midnight. 2020, the year of perfect vision, soon became very blurred. Fear blinded faith, and uncertainty clouded peace. We could not operate like normal anymore and had to figure out how to respond to the crisis with our hands tied behind our backs. We did not ask to be essential workers; we were doing what God called us to do.

At first, it looked like the pastoral care department might be labeled as non-essential. In many parts of the country, new policies prohibited my fellow OCA chaplains from operating in their hospitals and prisons, particularly volunteer chaplains. We had to advocate for our position and show that pastoral care and emotional support would be some of the most valuable resources for patients, families, and staff in crisis. It did not take long for hospital administration to ask for more spiritual care and prayer encounters on the units. We were given access to new means of communication and encouraged to be creative as we continued to build socially distant relationships.

UNPRECEDENTED TIMES, UNPRECEDENTED MEASURES

The truth? I was scared. I was not sure I wanted to be considered “essential.” I did not want to communicate with my grandfather through a glass door as he recovered from being on life support two weeks prior. I did not want to feel like I was putting others at risk when I came home. I did not want to do everything right and worry it would not be enough.

Then I realized. I was scared, so was my family. My patients were scared. My coworkers were scared. In the middle of discord and uncertainty, there was a common emotion – fear of the unknown. In a divided world, this was a giver of understanding. We could empathize and connect beyond the touch of a hand or a hug.

The Post-It Notes. Establishing pastoral care connections with patients, family, and staff required creativity and compassionate intentionality. I sought to place visible resources of hope and encouragement in my units to show my support for the staff in a creative expression of prayer and gratitude. I wrote individualized post-it notes for every staff member on my units and placed it on their lockers. Additionally, I hid them throughout the units in drawers and on computers. I wrote and updated more than 300 unique notes, along with scripture and prayer signs to hang up in the break room and at the nurse’s stations.

One of my fellow chaplains began to do the same on her units. We collaborated to surprise the staff with food and created an “Oasis” with plants that held scripture signs and devotionals. We needed to make pastoral care accessible and unique to them. At first, I did not know the impact it would make, but it opened many doors for further pastoral care with the staff I had not met prior.

Over six months later, the notes are still there, and the clinical director stated nurses were sending her pictures, telling her they wanted them to stay up as reminders. An administrator later approached me, grateful for these efforts, and looking to expand the idea to other staff across the hospital. She had been taking the devotionals and making copies to pass out herself, thus exponentially expanding our pastoral care reach.

The Birthday Party.  The pandemic affected more than COVID patients. It dramatically impacted the lives of everyone in the hospital. While rounding on my unit, I entered the room of a young woman suffering from severe malnutrition and weighing about 75lbs. It was the patient’s 21st birthday, and she was not emotionally coping well with being in the hospital, in this condition, and unable to have visitors due to the pandemic. At first, the patient was reluctant to talk, harshly requesting I leave her room. Later, she explained her concern for me to see her “break down,” but throwing me out did not prevent me from seeing her hurting, trying to process several types of grief and loss, and actively avoiding. To build a relationship and open lines of communication, I gathered items for a birthday gift and returned that afternoon to “throw her a party.”

Several days later, I followed up because she had received a terminal diagnosis. After a typical greeting exchange, there was silence for several minutes. She opened her mouth to speak, then stopped. Somehow it did not feel right to say anything, especially not, “how are you doing?” She finally questioned, “How do you tell the people closest to you that you are dying?”

Eventually, she shared her concerns, and the groundwork laid through the birthday party allowed me to build trust. I facilitated the voice that she had kept silent for so long, and she declared her deepest birthday wish. “I just want someone to sit with me and be with me. I do not want to talk about it. I just want to be with them.” So, in a pandemic, where her parents and friends could not fulfill that wish, I sat there with her in silence and was simply present.

LESSONS FROM THE FRONT LINES

Breathe First. The first thing I tell anyone in crisis is to breathe. One must learn the difference in reacting and responding. In moments like these, I remember the most incredible tool we possess – breath – the breath of God breathed into humanity at the beginning of time, which continues to be passed down through generations. Breathe – be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).

Self-Care. Chaplains experience physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual stress that cannot be left unattended. My tested and proven answer to this stress is prioritizing the practice of holistic (body, mind, and spirit) self-care to better care holistically for others. It was also necessary to address feelings of guilt that arise when I set boundaries, even when they help me not overextend myself and better care for others.

I discovered that I could create a healing environment with minimal resources if I were willing to try. Self-care is not just the latest positive psychology buzz word; it is essential to the holistic wellbeing of a chaplain and those for which they care. In Mathew, we are commanded to love God holistically with our heart, soul, and mind; therefore, maintaining a healthy work-life-church-education balance is an outward expression of this inward commitment (Matthew 22:36-40).

Strategy & Teamwork. Many times, chaplains are thrown into crises, where the tension is high, and the need for a calm presence is even higher. When the pandemic hit, we found ourselves in situations that did not seem real. Even the standard, non-COVID-related traumas seemed heightened, and the world seemed to be spinning out of control. In the middle of the pandemic, our hospital opened its new tower with a state-of-the-art Emergency Care Center and Intensive Care Units.

During day five in the new ER, they paged me to a code STEMI. Shortly after, a CODE 22 (intentional overdose) came into Trauma 1 with law enforcement present. The STEMI patient was Spanish speaking only, so I called the bilingual unit chaplain; however, before he arrived, both codes became critical, requiring resuscitation efforts. These were further complicated by a third CODE 22 (respiratory arrest).

This situation fostered tension, which tested clear, compassionate communication. Even seasoned staff were still adjusting to the new environment. Due to its complexity, I quickly developed the following strategy:

  1. Gain information through engagement with staff and families.
  2. Assess the people and environment to triage pastoral support needs, addressing the most critical first
  3. Collaborate and communicate with peers and interdisciplinary staff, timely distributing critical information
  4. Implement appropriate and timely interventions for staff care and patient care
  5. Continuously evaluate interventions and reassess until the crisis has been addressed, and routine care can resume.

Relationships. During the above events, I checked at reception for a patient family. A woman was yelling at the tech, who was visibly overwhelmed and holding back tears. Suddenly, another woman began to have a seizure, and the waiting area seemed to be in a panic. Following a quick interdisciplinary intervention, the tech left to return equipment. I followed and asked her to take a seat in the exam room. She kept asking if I needed her help, and I stated, “that can wait, I am here for you right now.”

I encouraged her to take a breath like I had done moments earlier. I helped her stop for a moment and to acknowledge what she was feeling. It was a moment of calm in the middle of crisis. This encounter is an example of how to respond strategically and create individualized plans, followed by appropriate collaborations. Most of all, it is a reminder to build relationships. Even in a crisis, build relationships, because relationships, with God and people, are the calm in the middle of a storm.

Authority & Limitations. There are two things one must be aware of to be a successful chaplain: the authority and the limitations of the position. Having worked as a social worker in the past, I must be very conscious not to slip into someone else’s role. Additionally, if my goal is holistic care of a patient, staff, or family, I must collaborate with others to provide what I cannot. A chaplain must recognize when they need to take the initiative, to speak up, to advocate, to fight, to hope against hope. They must also recognize when it is time to take a step back, to refer to interdisciplinary resources, or to ask for help.

The bible reminds us that one may plant, another may water, but God will bring the increase (1 Corinthians 3). As a chaplain, I learned that I might not see the completion, and I cannot force people to change, accept their situation, or see my perspective. But I could be mindful and present. This year brought me from “doing for” people to “being with” them. Sometimes “being with people” means taking risks. I may not always get it “right,” but knowing my authority and limitations also means being willing to objectively analyze an encounter, be open to feedback, actively reflect, and respond differently next time.

A CRY FOR CHAPLAINS

When I walked into my first supervisory session, I was asked to bring an image that described how I felt in my pastoral identity. I brought a picture of a toddler playing dress-up in her mother’s high heels. “I feel like this little girl, in shoes too big,” I stated, expecting an understanding response. Then my supervisor asked, “Could it be you have been in shoes too small, and these are shoes you can grow into?” I spent 12 months and two weeks in a growth spurt, full of growing pains, wanting to give up, not understanding why, but ultimately realizing I was right where God placed me.

I have learned that there are many ways one can respond to crises even when they feel in over their head. Working as a chaplain in a hospital on a “normal day” can be challenging with traumas rolling into the emergency department, patients receiving life-altering diagnoses, the beginning of life, and the end of life. Patients with their spouses, children, friends, and colleagues are all wanting answers. They are looking to the chaplain for “the why,” “the how,” and “the what now.”

However, this responsibility should not deter one from entering the chaplain vocation, because with the direction of the Spirit and the power of Jesus’ Name, your calling will make room for you (Proverbs 18:16). Lives are crying out for called, trained, apostolic chaplains to be the light of God in their darkest valley. When they are the most vulnerable, they need to see the hand of God reaching into their brokenness and creating purpose in their pain – beauty in their ashes (Isaiah 61).

Sometimes chaplains feel they cannot meet such a need. Scripture highlights a moment where the apostles felt the same, yet their response was, “Such as I have…” (Acts 3). When you feel you have nothing to offer, remember you possess the most powerful resource: the name of Jesus Christ. So as we hear the heartbreaking cries of the masses in crisis, I ask you, “Could it be you have been in shoes too small, and these are shoes you can grow into?”

Ministry Central

Distance Learning Primary Site

(click on picture of books to go directly to Ministry Central)

Perspective Chaplains,

Level one and two distance learning can be found on Ministry Central (click on picture to link) You can take both levels on Ministry Central.  To apply for endorse status you must complete level one training and pass the tests. These are open book tests so feel free to review the material as many times as you need to. You can either take this training though our live training taught by Dr. Sidney Poe or take the training on line. The courses are offered at a very reasonable cost compared to industry standards. When you apply there is a charge for application processing and first year dues. After the first year the renewal fee is $90.00 a year.

Within one year after being endorsed you are required to complete level two. This training is designed to give you tools to use when the need arises so that you will be able to help those in crises.

We have two sites for distance learning. Below you will see the link to OCATeachable.com. That site was our first training site and only has level one training. Because of the program limits level one on this site had to be split up in to parts A&B with test. It takes both A&B and the test to complet level one training. 

We sincerely pray that your journey into chaplaincy will be an anointed and fruitful path. If we can help you in any what please contact my administrative assistant Lori Ann at loriann@plisolutions.com or if you need to talk to me you can call 870-814-0901.

Thank you for your interest and burden

William Dillon

OCA Director 

THE FOUR CHAPLAINS

Submitted to Chaplain Mark Hattabaugh

   On the frigid night of February 3, 1943, the overcrowded Allied ship U.S.A.T. Dorchester, carrying 902 servicemen, plowed through the dark waters near Greenland.  At 1:00 am, a Nazi submarine fired a torpedo into the transport's flank, killing many in the explosion and trapping others below deck.  It sank in 27 minutes.  The two escort ships, Coast Guard cutters Comanche and Escanaba, were able to rescue only 231 survivors. 

   In the chaos of fire, smoke, oil and ammonia, four chaplains calmed sailors and distributed life jackets.  They were Lt. George L. Fox, Methodist; Lt. Clark V. Poling,  Dutch Reformed; Lt. John P. Washington, Roman Catholic; and Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Jewish.

   When there were no more life jackets, the four chaplains ripped off their own and put them on four young men.  As the ship went down, survivors floating in rafts could see the four chaplains linking arms and bracing themselves on the slanting deck.  They bowed their heads in prayer as they sank to their icy deaths.

   Congress honored them by declaring this "Four Chaplains Day."  On February 7, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower spoke from the White House for the American Legion "Back-to-God" Program:  "And we remember that, only a decade ago, aboard the transport Dorchester, four chaplains of four faiths together willingly sacrificed their lives so that four others might live.  In the three centuries that separate the Pilgrims of the Mayflower from the chaplains of the Dorchester, America's freedom, her courage, her strength, and her progress have had their foundation in faith..."  America's God and Country Eneyelopedia of Quotations.

   Eisenhower continued:  "Today as then, there is need for positive acts of renewed recognition that faith is our surest strength, our greatest resource.  This 'Back-to-God' movement is such a positive act...  Whatever our individual church, whatever our personal creed, our common faith in God is a common bond among us...  Together we thank the Power that has made and preserved us as a nation.  By the millions, we speak prayers, we sing hymns-and no matter what their words may be, their spirit is the same-'In God is our Trust.'"

   Eisenhower stated in his address:  "As a former soldier, I am delighted that our veterans are sponsoring a movement to increase our awareness of God in our daily lives.  In battle, they learned a great truth-that there are no atheists in the foxholes."

IN NEED OF CHAPLAINS

Arkansas State Trooper 1st Class Moomey hit a drunk driver head on, ON PURPOSE!  The drunk was speeding the wrong way on the interstate highway, obviously posing a grave danger to others.

     The durnk is dead, the Trooper is barely hanging on.  The Trooper made a deliberate, informed decision to stop a threat despite a very low chance of survival for himself. 

     He quite literally put himself between innocents and a threat.

     The Hallsville Community and the Hallsville First Responders stand and salute you, Trooper Moomey for your sacrifice and heroism.


HERE IS A NEED for a Chaplain to minister to the family of the injured Trooper's family, and his coworkers in the division in which he served; and a need for a Hospital Chaplain to work with the family of the injured trooper.  There is also a need for an EMT Chaplain to work with those who had to go and bring him into the hospital.  So many lives and emotions are devestated by this matter!

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OCA Director William Dillon  
264 South Veterans Memoral Blvd 
Tupelo, MS 38804

Phone: 870-814-0901
Email: William@plisolutions.com

OCA is an endorsed project of the UPCI in the Office of Education and Endorsments 

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