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Spring Journal

Volume 31, Issue 1

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Tuesday, 02 January 2018 21:06

Starting the New Year Right With Effective Communications: Tips Every Emergency Official can Use

With the holiday season coming to a close and the new year upon us, it is time to bring focus back to planning for the year ahead.

As we saw in 2017, no agency or community is immune to both natural and manmade threats to people and property.

The following list of tips provides guidance for emergency officials to use to make improvements to critical notification planning in 2018:

  • Emergency officials who are improving critical notification planning need to conduct an updated risk assessment. This risk assessment must focus on possible emergencies and threats that could impact your area.
  • Create a critical notification plan for each of the potential scenarios. It should include the most optimal modes of communication for each threatening situation. For example, communicating with the public about an active shooter threat in a school will differ from communications due to a forest fire encroaching on a community.
  • Download the white paper: Communicating in Crisis – How Preparedness Leads to Successful Crisis Management to utilize the free planning template and document important response processes.
  • Identify at-risk populations and how to communicate with them in an emergency scenario. This should include workers within the agency, as well as the general public in their homes or travelers to the area. It should also include businesses affected in the area.
  • Once the plans are put into place, practice drills should be implemented immediately.
  • As the emergency officials in charge of community safety, you need to evaluate any existing practice drills to ensure the methods of communication are being communicated effectively. For example, you may send out test communications messages and ask for responses, create focus groups within the target population, or create surveys to send out to community members. These tests and surveys should help identify any communication gaps in the critical notification plan.
  • Ongoing training for emergency officials needs to be scheduled throughout the entire year to keep teams up-to-date and tweak where necessary before a crisis were to occur.
  • Having emergency supplies in position prior to an incident is essential in carrying out any rescue mission.
  • Your organization is encouraged to get the help of the public via communications, both in spotting signs of an emergency and providing ongoing communication.