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Exploding Jurisdictions
Danny Lynchard, CMC

A fireworks factory sat in a rural area of Oklahoma. It employed local people. A popular consensus within the town’s members was that a fireworks factory didn’t belong in their town. This opinion turned to fact and was easily understood by all, including the owners of the fireworks factory, when a fifty-five gallon drum was dragged across a concrete floor and gun powder residue exploded killing 23 employees: a horrific blast that sent metal and body parts flying. Many of the employees were teenagers working part time. It was a terrible tragedy.

People from the area began immediately to descend on the site looking for answers. But unfortunately, nothing was recognizable. The first phase of recovery was to tend to the wounded. No one had time to answer parental questions and parents certainly couldn’t comb through the carnage looking for their children.

An information center was set up at a small church close by. Stunned friends and family members searching for answers were directed there instead of the command center. The local pastor was wonderful, but quickly he became overwhelmed. His church was soon filled with people wearing all sorts of badges; radios were squawking, news media descending, and worried friends and family members were pressing to get any information on their missing loved ones. For the first time during his service in the ministry, the pastor felt he had no control over this situation. Somewhere in his generosity, he had lost control of his parish.

The only people that are as jurisdictional-conscious as pastors, are emergency personnel and police officers. In an atmosphere filled with uncontrollable events, there is a great desire felt by all to get the situation under control. Jurisdictional lines are drawn with the dark markers and backed by strong temperaments. Many times, it can only add to the confusion and disarray already being experienced.

Sometimes, lines have to be drawn so that the best help can get to the ones most seriously hurt. There are times when a worker needs to catch their breath and let God’s force use someone else’s strength. A well trained and experienced chaplain can be of great help, the go-between, the buffer, whose calming words bring understanding to such a crisis. A situation that is easily entered into but difficult to back away from and let everybody save face.

A chaplain’s words, demeanor and attitude, reflecting understanding and the presence of the Creator, can bring a calm and control. It can be something position-protecting can never accomplish.

About The Author

Danny Lynchard, CMC, has been the Director of the Tulsa Police/Fire Chaplaincy Corps for thirty plus years. His task is to recruit and train local clergy to assist citizens and emergency workers during crisis. He is a Certified Master Chaplain. He has authored "Beef Stew for Cops", a collection of true inspirational stories from the life of emergency workers, and he has co-authored a military devotional entitled, "Coming Home."

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