Communication is the most powerful tool that can be used to inform people of a crisis and provide the mechanisms of preparedness, intervention, prevention, and coping in times of crisis. Communication helps manage crisis better; hence the best practices of communication should be employed involving all the relevant and concerned professionals, organizations, and individuals. The goal of this paper is to discuss the best forms of communication practices in times of crisis to avoid the loss of lives and public panic due to water contamination (Ulmer, 2011). This will be done by looking at the groups and individuals who can assist in times of crisis, the different communication modes, and their advantages and challenges; also, there will be discussed the use of different technologies and the role of social media in crisis intervention programs.
Large improved programs and initiatives aimed at implementing strategic changes in organizations and benchmarking are some of the most recommended practices in crisis communication. This is done through analysis, assessment, and overviewing crisis programs in organizations so as to increase efficiency and quality (Chandler, 2009). Finding industrial ways to address the water contamination by emphasizing on industrial leaders and known experts in a crisis field helps in benchmarking and getting thorough information in case of crisis. This is achieved through describing and measuring highly rated and quality crisis management operations. This is aimed at ensuring that the water systems are not contaminated and if so, what is the best way to prevent the public harm (Chandler, 2009).
Industrial experts will help come up with practices, processes, and systems which provide the best suited models in case of water contamination. This provides a blueprint for teams used in water and sewerage to improve efficiency and effectiveness in their endeavors to minimize anticipated risks and harmful effects of contaminated water (Ulmer, 2011). This forms a basis for coming up with code guidelines, standards, and reference points that help in improving their performance.
Other support groups in times of crises that can be used to provide communication include the police and the army who have exceptional training and tactics of communication. Volunteer groups such as The Red Cross and common people can be used to collect information (Miller, 2009). Then, they can communicate it accordingly so as to inform the concerned people and authorities. This will help develop the best intervention measure based on the situation being experienced. Helplines and hotlines can also be used to communicate within and outside the situation (Seeger, 2006).
One of the main and significant advantages of communicating with all the relevant sectors is that it reduces conflicts. This is achieved through the utilization of feedback messages to bridge the gaps between the sectors. It also provides extra information and resources that may not be available in one organization increasing the efficiency of dealing with the crisis (Ulmer, 2011). Communication between the organization, the public, and private sectors helps build stronger links between them to understand what can be done at the moment and in the future to alleviate water contamination (Ulmer, 2011).
Effective communication in a crisis would help both public and private organizations involved in water management understand each other’s ideas of coming up with comprehensive water management policies and strategies.
There are various challenges involved in communicating risks and crisis situations (Chandler, 2009). The differences of various groups involved in crisis management have various backgrounds as well as technical experience and knowledge. Differences in training, expertise, disciplines, and perspectives, when dealing with crisis situations, can cause hindrances while developing a communication system in a crisis situation. This is due to disciplinary divisions which employ different approaches when tackling crisis (Seeger, 2006).
Technological use varies across cultures and depends on educational levels. When communication about its use is involved, ensuring the information is interpreted, analyzed, and got with clarity as intended is very important. This is because the different organizations as well as the public and private sectors involved use technology differently. More emphasis should be on the victims of the flooding, and how they can be best convinced that the water is safe for drinking despite the contamination (Miller, 2009).
One of the fastest means of communication nowadays is social media, which is eased by the use of the internet. Once a crisis like contaminated water has been announced, people will update it on their social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. However, the credibility and accuracy of such information needs to be given attention, because it may misguide and cause panic in such a sensitive matter like this. The best way would be to offer official and confirmed information on the same sites to counter the effects of misinformed public (Ulmer, 2011).
Social media provide a quick way of communication; here the responsible water treatment companies can make it clear which of the water systems are contaminated and which are not. Also, information about what is being done to deal with the problem and alternative ways of accessing clean and uncontaminated water can be posted here. This will help keep the public aware. The cause of contamination should also be described in a way that considers the sensitivity to the concerned towns (Ulmer, 2011).
The Three Mile Island realtor blasts crisis could have been better communicated if the technology available today was available at that time. One of the wonders of today’s technology is the internet which allows more people to access information fast and readily. Broadcasting takes time since reporters have to be on site of the crisis. With internet, satellites are used to communicate fast and efficiently. An individual can record events in a crisis and post video online through live streaming. This information will be available to many people to view it and come up with immediate measures to overcome the crisis (Miller, 2009).
Digital phones and closed circuit television (cctv) surveillance cameras could have been used to transmit such information about the blasts. Accident detecting devices could also have been installed to predict the likelihood of a blast; also, automated emergency exits which use highly sophisticated technology could have been used then (Ulmer, 2011).
In most cases, such as during the water contamination crisis, the public always wants to get information. Therefore, they turn to the most available source to help them know what is happening and the likely outcome of these situations. Similarly, the media are working tirelessly to give information regarding the crisis as soon as possible. In such a state, false, misleading, and inaccurate information is likely to be passed out and believed by the readers (Chandler, 2009).
Rumors may be taken as the truth which can cause far-reaching effects. This especially concerns the affected public which can make haste and wrong conclusions. The media have editors and reporters who choose what to report; however, when a significant event occurs, the information may be too overwhelming and hence care should be taken to address such information by the media (Ulmer, 2011).
The number of crises and natural disasters is currently on the rise; this is a fact which can be partly attributed to the increased media coverage. Despite the reports, crises such water contamination, flooding, and earthquakes need to be looked into well in line with the health risks that come with them. Effective health care systems need to be established to look into such matters which are impossible to avoid. Here, doctors have come up with the measures how to prepare in case of such eventualities. Water contamination can be a source of enormous health challenges; as the World Health Organization (WHO) endorses, hospitals, medical staffs, and clinical officers should be prepared for crises (Seeger, 2006).
In crises times, uncertainty and panic are common occurrences; therefore, having an efficient communication system is extremely valuable. This makes the handling of medical issues easier. Sometimes, the normal communication ways (telephones and roads) may be destroyed and hence it is upon the water crisis management team to ensure that the medical personnel takes on new roles in accordance with the prevailing conditions to provide the right information to the intended uadience (Seeger, 2006).
In a crisis, peoples’ feelings and emotions are high and require immediate answers. It is necessary to consider the medical personnel and provide them with the relevant and accurate information regarding the water contamination. From there, they will take on to provide the basic hygiene and health information to the affected towns. This prevents the risks of disease spreading and epidemic (Miller, 2009).
Each crisis has it own unique implications; hence all government and public health centers should be well prepared at all times. This is achieved through redesigning the hospitals’ equipment, medicines, and medical supplies to cater for all the needs that may arise. Planning ahead is crucial in crisis time. This provides an assurance that crises will be well addressed in case they happen since their occurrence is devastating and unpredictable (Ulmer, 2011).
When communicating about crises like the water communication, the best and the first thing is to have all the facts at hand. Then, one has to evaluate the way and the amount of the information that can be passed to the public. This includes a clear explanation of the mistake that occurred, expressing concern and empathy to the concerned victims, and a sincere apology (Ulmer, 2011). This also entails expressing the will to find out why the contamination happened and analyzing the ways to address them. Providing true and acurate information will increase the people’s trust on the efforts of the emergency team. Using an effective communication system together with a sound crisis policy plan will boost the management efforts. This increases the confidence and reassures the affected people and the concerned audience.