Communication & Crisis

Many disasters happen around us that we have no control over, nor do we know what the impact will be of these disasters long term and short term. On the environment surrounding us as well as what it may do to our health. Working as the director of health for my region it is my job to stay on top of such issues. Keeping an eye out for such emergencies that may endanger us in our everyday living space and most of all our health. I want to go through how I might deal with such situations and how I would address it head on. While at the same time keeping the public informed without overwhelming them as well as looking at who I would collaborate with to make this situation resolve in the smoothest and best way possible.

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The issue that has come to my attention is water contamination in a certain area. This contamination is life threatening and needs to be acknowledged and dealt with accurately and promptly. As I am the director of emergency health situations I see myself and the mediator and problem solver between the public (people) and media. Those two things are there for each other but if you are not too careful they can harm each other; giving out too much information or not enough or sometimes the wrong information can be harmful to all parties involved. Having such a situation on had you need to talk to the right people and receive all the right information. I would first go to the areas that have been affected and gather all the proper data and forms that show what chemicals are incorrect causing this contamination.

I need this information for hard copy evidence so when I contact the media or speak in public I will have all the proper information. I will also get the CDC involved if they are not already involved. They will be conducting the proper tests and research to discover what the contaminated bacteria is. They will also have the proper protocol in containing it, as well as seeing the damage it has done to people who have ingested it and come in contact with it. Finding an antidote will be another task they will have. In such a situation you will also get in contact with the proper news channels; national and local. Having my statements ready giving the media and public the help and information that they need.

Communicating in any situation has its advantages and setbacks. Working in such a high pace and high stress industry makes communication that much more important and not to mention difficult. Being in the health care industry means you work and deal with a lot of the same people consistently. This at times can be a good thing. You build relationships with them you become accountable to one another, you even learn each other’s communications styles; you become comfortable with them, in some cases they even become your second family. Having that crutch that comfort in such a high stress and high demand career is needed. As I said befor you become accountable to one another and the team work/bond is unbreakable unparalleled. This kind of bond is desperately needed in such careers. Especially when you are dealing with millions of people’s lives, they always count on me as director of emergency health.

Providing them with the best and most accurate information, help and solution to our health care crisis, that is no easy task and I cannot do it on my own. I use me organizations from the inside and outside; to give my best and keep our environment safe and clean. This same relationship is needed in any high profile type of career i.e. chief of medicine of a hospital the president of the United States. They all need to have great communication skills with their organizations and network of people. On the other side of the spectrum you can have communication issues that can do more damage than the crisis itself. You not only need to have basic communication skills with your staff and organizations but as we just finished discussing a great understanding and relationship with each other. If someone in the organizations you deal with miscommunicate on purpose for their own personal gain, whether that be to give themselves an advantage or just to give you a disadvantage, that may hinder your ability to protect yourself and the issue you are trying to solve. Giving you more steps to complete, possibly even making you back track. Making sure you have a good relationship and communication relationship with all the organizations you deal with inside your office and outside is key. Even if you only deal with them occasionally or if you deal with them on a regular basis.

Communicating in a non-crisis situation verses a crisis situation can have its differences. The main importance is no matter the situation your communication should be using the basic knowledge of conversing. Communication in a non-crisis is a little more relaxed, yes you still have things to get across to each other and they are somewhat important; but for the most part your emotions are not running high you have yourself composed and thinking rationally. The stakes aren’t usually as high it’s not a life or heath situation. A crisis situation the emotions are running high, you are frazzled thinking a million miles a minute. Dealing with this type of communication crisis at work should be handled with a calm clear and patient mind frame. We obviously know listening is key in any situation especially a crisis situation.

I tend to be the listener when it comes to these situations and just in general. Most likely you will have most of the people in the room (people dealing with the crisis) trying to do the talking and not listening and we know communication is not just talking. I’ve learned from experience that you need to be understanding and patient with everyone in the situation, if you want to get anywhere with solving the issue or just communicating what you mean you need to take a minute and just breathe. Personally I have been in such similar situations before and it really makes a difference if you are the one with a cool head. This way of dealing with things can go for a non-health care setting and a health care setting. I am going to give you a personal story that just so happens to be in a health care setting. About 5 years ago my grandmother was hospitalized she had leukemia and lung cancer as well as a case of pneumonia which is why she went to the hospital.

While at the hospital she was infected with MRSA. Once she was diagnosed with MRSA our family went into crisis mode because the doctors told us the prognosis was not good at all. She basically had maybe weeks to live. She was put on life support hoping the MRSA was clearing up and my uncles went into their “communication mode”. There are 7 brothers including my father and they are all stubborn Armenian men who have the worste communication skills ever. The wives know not to get involved too much because if was their mothers life hanging in the balance; and none of them have any medical background to really understand what is going on and if they should pull the plug of keep her alive with the machines. As we all know doctors can only tell you so much, my sister and I are the listeners of the family and we are the vice of reason when it comes to most anything. We both just so happen to be the only two with medical backgrounds I am a nurse and she is in her medical residency. We had to use our knowledge and better communication skills to inform them and really show them that my grandmother was not coming out of this after we had our what I call “crisis family meeting” they decided to pull the plug that evening and my grandmother passed. In any situation whether it be medical, personal or work related communication is the same.

Something that we are just now getting comfortable using in everyday life as well as crisis situations is modern technology for communicating. This is a useful tool that we still need to learn how to properly use it in such crisis situations. Sending out mass email and text messages to keep the public informed, is one of the best ways we can use social media to alert the public of ever changing crisis management issues. This has just recently eveolved into something we use in this capacity. When hurricane Katrina hit we still only used news and it was a “wow” new idea to check in with loved one over facebook and twitter because all other forms of communication such as phones were down. How 5-10 years makes a world of differences.

Finishing off this paper about communicating during a crisis and how you might communicate during a non-crisis be different. How you should and could deal with people that you need to communicate during a crisis. How it really is important and how much of a new role social media is playing in crisis management. Writing this paper really made me think about how important it is to properly communicate with each other whether it’s for work or social. Being a good communicator is a bog key in all parts of life.

de Pre , A. (2005). Communicating about health: current issues and perspectives. : The Mcgraw-Hill. Fulk, J., Schmitz, J., & Ryu, D.
(1995, February ). Congnative elements in social construction of communication technology.Manegment Communication Quarterly , 8(3).

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