Mutual Aid Response Protocol

Revised/Approved Orange County Chiefs’ of Police and Sheriff’s Association—Sept. 2005



To offer a voluntary professional religious/social ministry to the community during critical incidents and in emergency situations where a Chaplain’s specialized skills would be beneficial. Chaplains also offer departmental personnel and their families, upon request, individual or family counseling and spiritual support during times of crisis or need.

Definition of a Critical Incident

Any fire, earthquake, or other natural disaster or man-made catastrophe (crime scene, accident scene, air disaster, terrorist attack, hostage situation), or other calamity that involves large numbers of individuals who are affected physically or mentally.

Request for Mutual Aid Response

  1. Incident Commander (Fire/Battalion Chief, Police Chief/Watch Commander, Administrator, or other authority) of the agency or organization involved activates Chaplain assistance by contacting SCCA’s Mutual Aid Coordinator: SCCA’s President or Rich Atkinson at 949-370-5102.
  2. Incident Commander advises SCCA’s Mutual Aid Coordinator of the scope of the incident, approximate number of victims, and any other relevant information.
  3. Incident Commander advises SCCA’s Mutual Aid Coordinator to have the Chaplains respond to the Command Post, police or fire department, hospital, scene of the incident, shelter, or other agreed-upon location for staging.


Role of the Mutual Aid Coordinator

  1. Makes assessment of the number of Chaplains needed and contacts those active SCCA members who have registered to be deployed in emergencies and who serve as Chaplains near the location. Prior to responding, Chaplains must receive permission from the chain-of-command of their department or agency.
  2. Designates central location for Chaplains to meet and receive briefing on the incident.
  3. Contacts the Incident Commander’s local designee for updated information on victims, relatives, police or fire personnel needing assistance.
  4. Establishes time and location for debriefing of Chaplains prior to sending them out with assignments.


Dress Code—Identification

  1. Chaplains associated with the Southern California Chaplains’ Association should wear outer attire (windbreakers, raid jackets, or reflective vests) or similar attire provided by their respective agencies.
  2. The words “CHAPLAIN,” “POLICE CHAPLAIN,” “FIRE CHAPLAIN,” etc., should be displayed for easy identification.
  3. All Chaplains should have some form of photo I.D. from their respective agencies.
  4. Responding members are there to augment the Chaplain corps of the handling agency, so they need to blend in. Therefore, no uniforms are to be worn by Chaplains during a mutual aid response.


Duties at the Scene

Each emergency will have its own special circumstances. Chaplains need to be willing to perform a wide variety of tasks (within their physical abilities). Chaplains might carry boxes of supplies, maintain a registration table for victims at a shelter, or counsel families who have lost loved ones. Each is equally important.


The Mutual Aid Coordinator will be responsible for collecting written reports from the Chaplains describing their involvement and assistance rendered. Chaplains may assist with follow-up at their discretion. All documented assistance should be forwarded to the Southern California Chaplains’ Association President or Vice President at the earliest convenience. Copies of all reports will be forwarded to the Chief Executive of the agency involved.