Communication and Crisis

Hurricane Katrina was considered as one natural disaster. But in reality it was two disasters. The initial disaster was a natural disaster which ripped the coastlands of Louisiana and Mississippi to shreds and left New Orleans a wasteland. The second disaster was the lack of communication and response that took place between federal, regional, state, and local relief agencies and efforts after the hurricane. The two disasters combined have caused a lot of damages to a vast human population. The consequence of Katrina includes a record number of death tolls, injuries, refugees and expenses as well as the rebuilding of approximately 1,300,000 million people. Our lack of preparation and communication took the lives of one thousand four hundred and twenty people, caused seventy million dollars in damages. Communication breakdown is expected in a time of any natural disaster. Katrina crippled the emergency response team set in place by taking down a four hundred foot antenna built to withstand a 150 mile per hour wind. Due to this some of the public safety systems put in place to serve the police and fire department in the gulf coast stopped working. Most emergency response teams were stranded in terms of communicating amongst each other during a time when coordination of rescue efforts was most important. All of these listed catastrophic events were due to the lack of planning. Katrina exposed a lot of weakness in our communication process. Our phone lines were very vulnerable with almost two million phone lines and cell phone service interrupted or being out of service.

It took a while to minimally restore communication services. One thing I have learned in the health care field is you should never lie to your client. If I was the director of a regional emergency office I will live by the same creed. It is very important not to scare or create panic without adequate or substantial evidence. In this given assignment I will sit down with all the department involved and exam the validity of the report. If it holds some truth to it, I will ask for further examination of the water. While the further evaluation of the water is going on I will sit down with the local health department to determine the severity if the test on the water should come back positive with biological agents. If indeed the water is contaminated with biological agents, the PR team will have to strategize to create a public awareness with minimal or no panic at all. The use of all the available communication devices will also be evaluated to determine the best approach. “PDFA is one of many groups devoted to improving public health. Also involved in this effort are the Ad Council, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and others. Chapter 12 provided a guide through the first four stages of creating a health campaign to increase participation in a university sports recreation program: Step 1: Defining the Situation and Potential Benefits

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Step 2: Analyzing and Segmenting the Audience
Step 3: Establishing Campaign Goals and Objectives
Step 4: Selecting Channels of Communication” (Du, 2005)

Even though the above steps are not specifically tailored for crisis, it can still be used to address crisis and create awareness. Defining the situation in this case will be to fully identify the problem at hand and gain adequate amount of knowledge about what we are dealing with. The potential benefit will be gaining the knowledge to address the issue at hand and gaining the trust of the public. Once we gain the trust of the public the panic level of citizens will decrease. They will have somewhat of a sound mind knowing the issue is being addressed and contained or better yet eliminated. Analyzing and segmenting the audience will help identify our target group of people. Citizens who do not use the water should be out of our focus and those who use the water should be our focus. Defining our target group of people helps us with the next step which is establishing campaign goals and objectives. This will involve strategizing and executing a well thought out cause of action to perfection. Once all the foundation of this campaign is in alignment, the next step will be the selection of communication channel.

“New media methods are employed in both advantageous and difficult times. Organizations may, for example, use media to promote awareness of a disease to increase fundraising so that research can be furthered, providers can communicate more readily with patients and clients, and pharmaceutical companies or hospital clinical trials can promote a lifesaving new discovery. Similarly, media are used in health care crises, as well. Disaster information—such as weather alerts, evacuation instructions, and notification of aid—can be quickly and easily disseminated to those who need it the most.

Proper understanding of how communication campaigns and methods adapt over time is equally important as is the technology that is used to reach recipients. Social media are constantly evolving and changing the way people communicate today. Reaching the target audience requires that the sender of information recognizes the usage trends and adapts campaigns and communications to fit the recipient’s communication patterns and desires.” (University of Phoenix, 2013,) To reach the mass audience, the use of television as a communication method will be most ideal to educate the public on the potential threat. Television is known to be one of the biggest and the oldest way of marketing or sending out alerts with proven trend of effectiveness. Before social media and the internet, television and the radio was the main source of communicating to any target market. Using the media and announcing the potential threat on one or all of the local news on television. During the announcement a list of all the social media pages providing updates and more information about the biological agent in the water will be provided. A team of educators will be assembled to educate the public on the crisis that’s going on.

Citizens of the city will be tested for any complication caused by the contamination of the water. In conclusion, sometimes the best education is acquired through our mistakes. Through our error we sometimes find solution or gain more knowledge. We have learned a lot from previous crisis and how poorly the leaders of this nation were prepared or prepared its citizens. We learned that our biggest forefront of defenses which is our communication channels was very vulnerable. We can never prepare ourselves to defend against nature and its natural disasters.

Du Pré, A. (2005). Communicating about health: Current issues and perspectives (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw Hill. University of Phoenix. (2013). Week Five Read Me First. Retrieved from University of Phoenix, HCS 320 website.


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