A crisis is an occurrence that exceeds a person’s normal copying ability Du Pré (2005). When unexpected, sudden situations occur it affects a community. When things happen that we are not prepared for, it can create chaos and negative outcomes can occur. One of the most common unexpected situations is natural disaster, when nature decides to unexpectedly show us what it is capable, sometimes it can be devastating. However, man made disaster can also occur and cause just as much devastation. Hurricane Katrina and The Three Mile Island nuclear reactor are great examples of disasters that caused great alarm and devastation. These two were deal different and communicated in different ways to the public because of the technology and resources available at the time it happen. As a Director of a regional Emergency Management Office, using these two scenarios as learning experience will help create a plan to address within the organization as well as with the public to try to use best practices to avoid same mistakes in order to be successful at communicating but not alarming the community.
It will be important to take into consideration the types and appropriate communication channesl to use inside and outside the organization, as well as analyzing the advantages and challenges faced to communicate with different groups outside the organization as well as the public. Individual or groups that will be communicating inside and outside the organization As a regional director of this Management Office, the main job is to keep people up to date of the situation at hand. The chain of command is critical to making sure services and resources are utilized in a timely manner without duplication Shover (2007). The first step is to communicate everyone in the organization of the situation at hand by an immediate phone conference with upper management followed by a memo to the rest of the organization with a plan of action.
If a crisis is not well handled that can damage the organizations reputation and credibility Hicks (2012). It will be important to appoint a spokes person to be in charged of dealing with the media, and also create a hot line for people to call with concerns regarding the situation. Simultaneously, contact all local and public health agencies, state public health agencies, federal public agencies, any Emergency medical services, hospitals, nongovernmental response such as American Red Cross, CERT, Faith based organization as well as business. According to Shover (2007) The Standard Emergency Management System (SEMS) (Governor’s Office, 1994) is an incident command system (ICS) and was initiated into California law in 1991. The basics of SEMS are to enhance coordination and communication of information and mutual aid resources between local and state authorities during an emergency.
By using the state and governmental agencies, it will help to use their communication channels, since they communicate with each other, it will create a fast response and at the same time it cause that the public to get good communication with out creating a panic. Advantages and Challenges Associated with Communication with The Groups One of the biggest challenges with communicating with various groups in this situation will be trying to keep everyone calmed and up to date with all the appropriate information within the organization as well as other groups outside the organization. Many organizations create a comprehensive crisis plans in order to be prepared for any crisis Hicks (2012). If people with in the organization are not aware of what is going on, and what plan to implement, they will not be able to act appropriately and perform their job duties, and that can cause a bigger chaos.
The director’s job is to be able to choose appropriate communication channels to keep all the employees in the organization informed as well with a plan of action to portray a sense of calmness regardless of what is going on and that can be hard. If the appropriate communication channels are not used, they organization can fall apart and the public will suffer the effects of their challenges. If the public is not informed of what is going on using the correct channels of communication, they will feel a sense of distrust and panic can arise. That is why is important to keep the information simple, accurate, honest and delivered in a timely manner. If they are issues where they don’t know the answer its ok to say so instead of covering information. The public needs to know that there will be an action plan in order and that the organization has the situation under control. Helping the public to understand the roles of the different agencies will help them to keep involved. If other organizations don’t keep calm, then they can also can cause a bigger chaos which will make the twice is hard to deal with the original situation.
Now not only they will have to worry about the life-threatening biological agent situation, but now they will need to figure out a way to keep everyone calm and that can slow down the operation of the emergency plan at hand. Advantages of keeping everyone informed will help in managing the crisis at hand and increase in productivity within and out side the organization. If all the employees of the organization are well informed of what is going on, they will be able to perform all their duties accordingly, making easier to manage the situation. If all the other agencies and private sectors are well communicated of the local organization’s plan of action, they can help support their efforts. Keeping everyone calmed and giving them options of what can be done and what other organizations are doing to support the public will help create a sense of cohesiveness and control of the situation which will in exchange keep everyone calmed.
Differences in Communication Processes Used
The crisis situations with the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor used different sources of communication that the ones used with Hurricane Katrina. What they had in common is that hey used the best communication that they had available at the time. In the case of the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor they used the three major networks and local radio stations which was the best and more efficient way to inform people at that time. In the case of Hurricane Katrina since there was more technology available they used newer sources like internet, cell phones, text messages and other websites to disseminate information which was the best sources to get the information to the public.
Because most of the local channels of radio and television were affected and the infrastructures was affected they had to expand communication to outside of the community to bring resources in. Of course television and radio was used, but compared with the Three Mile Island reactor more technology was available. Taking this into consideration, as a Regional Director’s job, finding the correct channels to disseminate the information will be a big task and using the most up to day and the most effective channels will be the key to success. Depending of the crisis or disaster at hand the right channels need to be used initially and if the initial channels are not effective it will be important to reassess to be more successful.
Appropriate Technology to Use
In the case of the biological agent crisis, the director will make sure that the correct channels of communication are used. Different channels are available at different times to try to reach different types of population. Phone, as well as hot lines, local, surrounding, state wide and even countrywide communities radio, newspaper, television, internet, other organizations websites, email to other agencies and distribution lists, social media, blogs, photo videos like Skype, You Tube will be appropriate. It will be important to keep in mind all of the possible channels that people have available and unavailable to make sure no one is left uninformed.
Print media will be easy to distribute to big and small groups within and outside the organization. Multimedia like TV will help engage large audiences, and easy to remember. Internet will be fast, simple, intended for those that are more technology savvy. The use of smart phones, text will help give rise to using social media as well for fast, and spreadable information.
How Technology Differs from the Scenarios to Now
The technology was used different in the scenarios due to the time and accessibility at the time as well as the difference in the type of scenario. For example in the case of Three Mile nuclear reactor television and local radio was the main way to disseminate the information because that was the most effective form at that time. Also the type of thread didn’t affect any infrastructure, which was the case in Hurricane Katrina. Since the infrastructure was affected, they used Television and radio outside the local area and instead they used more Internet and newer technology to reach a more people to get help from the outside in. The technology now compared with the one in 1979 with the Three mile nuclear reactor is definitely different and more effective, how ever between Katrina and now there is not as much difference other than a lot of more social media, blogging and Photo video are more common now then during that time.
As a director of the regional Management Office using the media will be beneficial. It will be important to keep in mind the advantages and disadvantages of this source of communication because if it not used appropriately it can back fire in the progress and success of maintaining calm and correct consistent message. According to Stephenson, (1982) News media have a vested interest in catastrophes, therefore, The key is to make sure the organization come forth first with the right and credible information as well as provide people with information currently available and keep them updated to avoid the media to take over and creates chaos. Make sure to appoint a spokes person in behalf of the organization to give the updates to the media to make sure the correct information is passed to the public and other agencies. As an organization making sure the spokes person understands the importance of this role is key because critical decision will need to be made during this crisis period Hicks (2012).
When a crisis arises people tend to feel a big sense of change and it can result in sense of temporary or permanent change that can cause panic and or denial, that is why is important to always have a plan when disasters or emergencies occur. During those challenging trying to come up with a solution right there in there can be challenging but if you have a plan to fall back on it can release some stress during a stressful situation. When unexpected happens you will never be one hundred percent prepared because two situations are not exactly the same but when you have some type of emergency plan in place as well as preparation your organization or family will be more equipped to face the challenges.
When natural and man made disasters or emergencies occur like Hurricane Katrina and The Three mile nuclear reactor scenario is important have a plan and be able to keep as many people informed and safe. Thinking about the right strategies and the right use of communication channels as well as the partnership with other organization will help to the success and safety of the people.
Du Pré, A. (2005). Communicating About Health. Current Issues and Perspectives (2nd ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database. Shover, H. (2007). Understanding the chain of
communication during a disaster. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, 43(1), 4-14. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/200766796?accountid=458 Stephenson, D. R. (1982). How To Turn Pitfalls Into Opportunities In Crisis Situations. Public Relations Quarterly, 27(3), 11. Hicks, Nancy. j. (2012). Health Industry Communication: New Media, New Methods, New Message,. Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database.