Canadian Red Cross prepares Command Post trailers for use across Ontario when people are at risk and most vulnerable.The Muskoka/Simcoe Disaster Management Teams are participating in the conversion of 6 Red Cross 24 foot trailers to be fully functioning communication and planning units. The trailers will have the capacity for wireless internet, generate its own electric and solar power to operate dependently and/or remotely during an emergency operation. The project is expected to be completed by the end of September 2014.
The Elliott Lake Public Inquiry is getting it correct. Much of the frustration both Elliott Lake community members and the broader Ontario audience experienced, resulted from lack of implementing an up-to-date emergency communications strategy.
As the preliminary findings of the public inquiry indicate, there was not skilled communications personnel on site or on the emergency response team in the Elliott Lake community when needed most…at the onset, during the response, and in the recovery of this disaster.
Both municipal governments and emergency managers need to take note of these findings. Your reputation is at stake when you fail to meet the fast paced demands by the community when such incidents occur.
Gone are the days of ‘issuing a news release’ and all will be well. The convergence of social media and smart phone technology has thrown the media cycle timetable out the door with yesterday’s trash. Sadly, local government, emergency managers and much of the broader emergency response community have still to learn this simple truth.
I’m posting the following CBC North news clip for your reference…it’s well worth a listen!
The Elliot Lake public inquiry is back in session. It was hearing suggestions on how to improve emergency response in Ontario. The CBC’s Megan Thomas has been following developments and joined us in studio for an update. Listen (runs 7:12)
What do you do when you live in an area where pagers won’t work?
That’s what the newly formed Canadian Red Cross Muskoka-West Parry Sound Disaster Management team faced as we geared up operations.
Beautiful lakes, small towns, rock and trees makes this area desirable but not the best for traditional emergency call out systems for the Red Cross. Stephen Dubois, Disaster Management volunteer came up with up with a creative solution of ‘iamresponding.com‘, a response communications system designed specifically for first responders.
With IamResponding.com, you are able to:
- Know immediately if you have volunteers on the way, or if you need to contact additional personnel;
- Know who is responding to the callout, to the scene or any other location; and
- Reduce response times.
The web based system works across most communications devices including computers, land line telephones, mobile phones and smart phones.
This is the ‘social media age’ and more proactive agencies such as the Canadian Red Cross look for ways to harness this new media’s potential.
The Canadian Red Cross Muskoka Disaster Management team turned to the services of Partnerships Towards Safer Communities (PTSC-Online) where Bill MacKay offered to create a “space” or mini community within PTSC-Online to support our team. Public and restricted blog/calendar and wiki services will permit the disaster management team to have two-way links to its volunteers for non-emergency communications.
This is similar to other spaces such as is used by the National Fire Protection Association. See the Networking Partnerships area which highlights other organizations PTSC-Online is working with. I’m certain as time passes, other emergency response agencies will adopt similar means to communicate. It really is interesting times!
Patrice Cloutier in his Crisis Comm Command Post blog Hurricane Irene’s social media aftermath identifies the very point that irked me as I followed media coverage of Hurricane Irene…the media’s approach to the mayor of New York’s emergency preparedness initiatives. He would have been dammed if the storm had N.Y City with its full force; as not having done enough to ‘save the city’. As you rightly note, this was no “dud” of a storm.
News outlets seem to follow some common rule book for reporting natural disaster events…reporter bares the storm to get the word out…with little innovation or insight.
Media need to reassess their approaches and their fundamental role in society. To continue to only play to the lowest common denominator ‘sensationalism’ does the public no service, for it only distorts the reality of human efforts to mitigate a natural disaster.
I look forward to results of your post event investigation.
There’s a distinct role for the public information officer when writing and/or reviewing the hazard inventory and risk assessment (HIRA) of an organization. In this posting (#CAEC009) on PTSC-Online, Patrice Cloutier and I are paying particular attention to that distinct role.
A PIO views the HIRA through the lens of the people at risk. Understanding the state of mind of those people, allows the PIO to enhance the effectiveness of the overall emergency response, by providing key messages and using communications tools that will assist people to make informed decisions.
We hope you explore ‘Risk analysis and its impact on crisis communications planning‘ and share you thoughts and experiences with us.