Many of us can think back to our first semester at college. On move-in day, we met the Residential Assistant in our dorm, walked the path to each class we were to attend, and made sure we could locate the mess hall. We did all of those things to reduce the stress and anxiety we knew we would already be facing on our first day of classes after moving away from home and knowing practically no one. We prepared for all the things we would anticipate going wrong.
Yesterday marked the ten year anniversary of the tragedy at Virginia Tech. Over the course of these last few weeks our hearts were heavy as the anniversary crept closer and closer. Today, and all days going forward, we remember those lost and the families impacted.
Though a terrible tragedy, what happened at Virginia Tech was fuel for hundreds of higher education institutions (and even non-higher education institutions) to improve how they protect and notify their people.
Due to the diverse roles that make up the population at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), and locations alike, critical communications and emergency notifications take many forms. UNMC’s Safety Manager, John Hauser, has to ensure everyone on campus and hospital grounds is notified immediately when a crisis or something out of the ordinary occurs.
With the diverse population of employees, students, patients, and visitors, there is much to consider. Each of these groups may receive different information according to their role, receive information via different methods or channels according to their role, or even both -- all according to the severity and specifics of the incident. John Hauser, along with any other Safety Manager, has his hands full.
When an emergency strikes, response times are extremely important -- which is why you need to make sure you have the right people involved from the start. Once you have notified your population and mobilized your resources -- it’s just as important to collaborate to discuss the next steps of the incident response with your team during the first moments of an emergency.
The first minute of an emergency is an adrenaline-fueled race against the clock. There’s an emotional rush of panic and anxiety... and now, with that additional pressure, you must execute your crisis communications plan. Imagine the potential difference it can make if your emergency response team and resources (like first responders) are engaged just seconds after an incident is confirmed.
Information can save lives. And when it matters most-- the sooner the information is dispersed the better. Once an emergency or critical situation has been confirmed, the first step towards a successful outcome is to initiate a message to your population of employees, students, and even visitors immediately - via all communication methods possible.