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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 194371 Find in a Library
Title: Public Information/Affairs Efforts in Support of Emergency Response Operations
Journal: The Beacon  Volume:3  Issue:9  Dated:June 2001  Pages:1-3
Author(s): William T. Russell III
Date Published: June 2001
Page Count: 3
Type: Program/Project Description
Format: News/Media
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article describes the role of the public information officer (PIO) in responding to emergencies.
Abstract: Media operations are usually delegated as an additional duty for a senior level leader or administrator in the hospital, fire, or police department. Police, fire, and emergency medical services (EMS) workers tend to think of their PIO as a member of the press but in actuality a PIO is an emergency responder. The press see themselves as the guardians of the public’s right to know information. If the government tries to shut out the press and refuses to share information, members of the press become suspicious or distrustful of the government. The press must be dealt with and it is preferable to control the information put out during a disaster. The key is to have a workable and rehearsed public information plan executed by a PIO as an integral part of disaster response operations. It is critical for the PIO to be familiar with emergency response operations. The PIO understands that a city’s emergency managers may not want to release information on a potential incident to prevent public panic but will help the managers develop information packages that can be released immediately if the information becomes public. These packages can be developed for generic as well as specific biological or chemical releases. They should include telephone hot line numbers, road closures, web site and radio broadcast stations, and hospital overload information. Another important aspect of media operations is media awareness training for first responders. This can be as simple as instructing the workers to say they do not wish to be interviewed. Another help is wallet-size media awareness cards that provide ready quotes for surprise questions from the press. The other side of the card can have general guidelines for personnel to use during any press encounter. The best advice is to tell the truth, stick with what is known, and don’t speculate. It is important that emergency responders view their PIOs as a critical member of their response team.
Main Term(s): Emergency procedures; Media support
Index Term(s): Crisis management; Disaster procedures; Media coverage; Police community relations units; Police-media relations; Public information
Note: Downloaded April 25, 2002
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