Communications: A Critical Emergency Management Discipline


An important component of an emergency management program is the communications plan. When an incident occurs, the need to communicate is immediate. Many different audiences must be reached with information specific to their interests and needs. The image of an organization can be positively or negatively impacted by perceptions of their handling of the incident.

Emergency managers aim to ensure an organization will be able to respond promptly, accurately and confidently during any emergency and continue this level of response in the hours and days that follow an incident. If your organization is impacted by an incident, any number of stakeholders will want to know how they will be disrupted. Regulators may need to be updated and local government officials will want to know what is going on in their region. Employees and their families will be concerned and want information. The general public may need information, even more so if they are threatened by the incident. All of these stakeholders will want information before your own organization has a chance to begin communicating internally.

The foundations of many effective emergency management communications strategies is building out communications across all phases of the emergency management cycle; mitigation, preparedness , response and recovery. There are different important issues to consider at each stage of the response cycle.

  • The mitigation stage should look to promote implementation of strategies, technologies, and actions that will reduce the loss of lives and property in future disasters.
  • Preparedness stage - there's a need to communicate preparedness messages that encourage and educate the public in anticipation of disaster events.
  • Response stage - you should look to provide to the pubic notification, warning, evacuation, and situation reports on an ongoing disaster .
  • Finally during the recovery stage the aim is provide individuals and communities affected by a disaster with information on how to register for and receive disaster relief.

There are a number of areas across these phases that emergency managers must ensure they've communication plans in place. For an organization to have an effective communications strategy it must provide timely and accurate information in all four phases of an emergency. Forming a unified communication system intended to optimize communications during emergencies, will aid in capturing your organization's communications in a single source.

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