In 2008, colleges were still scrambling to acquire an Emergency Notification System (ENS) to send mass text messages to their students. It was just over a year from the horrific Virginia Tech massacre that refocused the world’s priorities on the importance of campus safety and taking proactive measures to prevent a recurrence - on any campus.
Communicating with the masses has been a fundamental challenge humans have grappled with since the dawn of existence. As time progressed, the ingenuity of man yielded advancements in the ability to communicate with his tribes, villages, and communities.
As we look into 2018 and towards new and exciting technological advancements in emergency communications, I reminisce about a moment I recently had with my father. He recently shared a hard copy, binder version of his Emergency Response & Action Plan from the 1990’s with me. As the Supervisory Inspector of The Peace Bridge at the U.S.-Canada border, he was the lead author of the documented procedures and responsible for implementing emergency response. As we reviewed the 20-year-old plan, it brought us both back to how things once were. As we reminisced on all the late night calls he received to initiate a manual response to the crisis at hand, we went into deeper conversation about one event in particular.
This is really more than automating just emergency notifications. It is about thinking holistically about what happens when there is an incident and what communications actions occur during that first and most important minute. Notifications are certainly one type of communications action, however so are mobilizing resources and collaborating with your emergency response team. It is about automating a sequence of actions.
The emergency has concluded and it's time for debriefings and getting things back in working order. Did your response go as planned?
The process of collecting data and reviewing reports will help you to assess how the incident unfolded, how effectively the response was executed, and the reach of the communications. With this new information you can now go back and review the crisis communications response process.
When the incident has been resolved, there will be data and practical experiences that can be reviewed to improve the crisis communications plan and response for the future.
Here are 10 action items to fulfill after an emergency has taken place:
When an emergency strikes, emotions are high and sometimes you may not remember what to do or say. Without having proper preparations in place ahead of time, risk increases and you are exposed to a possible decreased success rate in regards to proper emergency response.
The same sentiment echos when considering what to do during an emergency. What should you do during the most important minute and the following first moments of an emergency?