Who, What, Where, When, Why and How?
These questions can apply to many problems that crop up in our lives. They particularly apply to incidents or accidents that affect us, at home, at work, at play and at church. Hence, the INCIDENT REPORT. Let’s examine these criteria as they apply to filling out the report.
WHO is anyone who has been involved in an incident or accident relating to a church activity; a child in Sunday School, an adult in worship, a volunteer, a staff person, a committee member, or workman working on a Church project to name a few. Examples: Someone falls on the stairs, someone slices their hand in the kitchen, someone has a medical emergency in the Sanctuary, or someone who is disruptive during the service. The second WHO is who would be the appropriate person to write the report, as the person who is directly involved may be unable to fill out the form. It then falls to whomever is closest to the event, for example, a Sunday School teacher, a Deacon, a co-worker, a Pastor, or a bystander who has observed the incident. A hearsay or third person report is less credible than that of an observed report.
WHAT has happened in a nonjudgmental statement. An Incident report is not the time to speculate. Stick to the facts. If the report is based on an altercation or incident between two (or more) people, there should be statements from each participant included. WHAT also indicates the immediate outcome of the event. Was 911 notified? Did they go to the ER?
WHERE did it happen? Was it in the building, outside the building, during an off-site Church activity? Be specific about where the incident happened. Where are blank Incident forms available for use? They should be on Bulletin Board outside the Church Office and in the SS Office.
WHEN did it happen? What time of day? Was it AM or PM? What was the date of the event? Dates must be complete and in the following format. (dd/mm/yyyy) Most importantly, WHEN refers to when the report was written, which is as soon after the event as possible. It should be written the same day as the event occurred. Reports written days or weeks after the event hold less credibility.
WHY What were contributory factors? Loose carpets, signs of physical weakness of person falling, church school student rough housing with another student, spontaneous symptoms of medical emergency could all be factors in why an incident happens. The other WHY is to consider is why we fill out the report. We do so for follow-up within the church. Timely resolution by the appropriate persons/committee of causative factors, whenever possible, is essential. Insurance purposes and possible litigation are two other reasons why we document such incidents. In fact, insurance companies ask for an example of our Incident Form so that they can critique it for possible revision.
The HOW to fill out the report will be in the next Epistle. Examples of what to write or not to write to make it an effective document will be included.