Community and Crisis Communication
This paper addresses issues concerning community and crisis communication in an area which experiences water contamination without instilling panic to the public. As the director of Regional Emergency Management Office, I will handle the situation via essential communication to create awareness among the public and organization concerning the life-threatening biological agents in public water supplies (Manning, 1992).
First, it is a vital step to involve groups or individuals to communicate inside and outside the organization during this crisis situation. These groups will accomplish this by holding a meeting with members of the organization and the public to address the issue. The selected individuals will initially enlighten the public and organization about the unsafe condition of water through illustrating how the water contaminants are risky to their lives. The groups must address this issue in a professional manner to ensure that they advise the public to enhance understanding without fear. After gaining the attention of people concerning the matter, the next thing is to mention the towns affected and assure the residents that the regional Emergency Management Office is handling the issue, and everything will be back to normal. This can be achieved through reassuring the area-affected residents that they will receive medication and alternative sources of water to use.
Alternatively, these groups or individuals can use the media to warn people concerning the issue in a less panic way. They will further alert the public health officials to be prepared to visit the affected areas in order to offer medication to treat and prevent diseases that may arise. In addition, the group will create awareness to public and organization to avoid drinking tap water even after boiling until they resolve the situation. Through these initiatives, the public and the members of the organization will take precaution without spreading fear until the issue is completely settled down.
Communicating water contamination crisis to public, the organization and private sectors may pose potential challenges and advantages. The positive side of this essential communication is evident when the public adapt initiatives on clean water campaign. This unites individuals through education to protect the quality of water and avoid usage of contaminated water, which may be harmful to their health. The other advantage is evident through the group when the public learn about the water pollution sources and the negative effects it causes to the society. The other positive side concerning this communication is that apart from informing residents and organizations, it reduces the outcome of events that arise due to contaminated water (Rosner, Halcrow & Levins, 2001).
The advantage of this communication is evident when individuals take preventive measures through boiling or treating water before consumption. In addition, different leaders within and outside the organization hold training to community members on dangers associated with contaminants and how they can pass this information to others without creating fear. The positive side of this essential communication is also evident in the society when, as a result of awareness, the majority evades the risk by staying safe. The individuals affected receive immediate help from the emergency management office and health officials who save people from dying due to the situation (Manning, 1992).
On the other hand, there are challenges experienced when communicating to public, private and organization members concerning the water crisis issue. First, most families do not take the matter seriously and ignore the advice from the emergency management department hence ending up suffering. For instance, they ignore the instructions and go ahead consuming the contaminated water, especially if there is delay in accessing alternative sources. The other problem is that not all individuals pay attention to media, especially during these crucial announcements. As a result, they continue consuming the water, because they have no idea whether it is harmful to their health. The same case applies to individuals who fail to attend the emergency meeting held by the assigned groups. Due to their absence, they may not be able to realize this water crisis and hence they face the risks.
The other potential challenge is that the group selected by the emergency department may not be large enough and can consequently fail to access all individuals in remote areas. The consequences that follow include: rampant spread of water diseases such as typhoid, which can cause death among individuals as a result of the situation.
There are also differences in communication process in crisis situations. They include the use of media or one-to-one form of communication when the group is in physical contact with the public. When using media to pass information concerning crisis, it will cover a wide section but not a sure way that all individuals will listen or watch and know what is happening. This implies that only a part of the population will be aware about what is happening and will take precaution. However, the emergency department might think that the information reached everyone, but unfortunately, the lack of access to media denies them the opportunity of getting details about what is taking place.
Analyzing this other form of communication is only effective when the presence of the public and organization members reveal that they are paying attention. However, when a section misses a single instruction, it means they will do the opposite when they reach home and result to a negative impact. I will incorporate the knowledge I learn from this scenario to improve the health care communication strategies by putting in place fast and effective measures to ensure that any emergency information reaches all members in public. One way to accomplish this initiative as the director in regional emergency department office is to deploy many individuals or groups.
They will ensure that all the public and organization members get relevant information concerning the water and any other crisis in the society. This can be through passing the information on every doorstep of the individuals as a sure way of handling this crisis situation on top of other communication processes such as media. To improve health care communication strategies, I will ensure that I incorporate health officials among the group to handle any situation that requires emergency in treatment of every household they visit (Seeger & Sellnow, 2003).
There is appropriate technology such as the social media that affects communication during this crisis situation. For instance, in this case where the society is experiencing water contamination problems, some members of social media tend to spread false information. This is evident through the status updates which individuals post. This happens when they are not sure or do not have accurate information concerning the situation. This has implications in a way that most people on social media who come across the information tend to believe without verifying on the facts. Consequently, it leads to confusion. This contradiction is evident when the information about the water crisis, which people update on social media, is completely different from the emergency management reports. This can further lead to a situation where the public and organizations decide to take their own measures, which differ from the emergency department advice. A good example is when reports from the emergency management office state that it will provide alternative water sources and that the public should stop consuming water even after boiling. On the other hand, individuals who access information from social media may go ahead and take their own precaution of boiling the water which, in the end, affects their health.
The use of social media is not bad during crisis situations, but there is a manner in which these technologies should be used to enhance communication. For instance, the administrators responsible for these sites should ensure that they countercheck the validity of the information before it reaches the public. This is through confirming by reliable sources: in this case, contact the director of the Emergence Management Office for reliability purposes (Rosner, Halcrow & Levins, 2001).
In this crisis scenario, this form of technology might be used differently through advising the public, private sectors and members of the organization to access correct information only from the emergency management office website. Through this, the public will be sure that they are using a reliable website to access accurate information on how to handle the water crisis issue. Media opportunities during this management crisis are to enlighten the public about the water contaminants by mentioning their risk. This opportunity of creating awareness should be conducted in a way that they avoid spreading fear by strictly giving the public the relevant information on how to avoid the risks (Seeger & Sellnow, 2003).
In conclusion, as the director of a Regional Emergency Department Office, I believe that through the effective use of media and appointed individuals or groups they will instill proper communication to the public and organization concerning this water contamination issue. In addition, when the public adheres to instructions from the emergency office, this will reduce panic as we will handle the issue without causing negative effect to the entire community. This is through assuring the public that even if water contamination issue is dangerous, the emergency department can take quick measures to ensure that all organization and the public are safe.