Don’t panic. In an emergency situation, Len LeRiche said those two words are the worst thing you can say
“What do you hear? You hear the word panic,” said LeRiche, president and CEO of Safety Services Newfoundland and Labrador.
LeRiche said that sort of drives home the message the organization is trying to get out there through a Crisis Communications in Emergency Management workshop it held in Corner Brook on Tuesday.
“What we’re getting into here is the importance of establishing crisis communications plans or communications plans in general,” he said.
Twelve people, including representatives from the Deer Lake Airport Authority, Corner Brook Port Corporation, Western Health and the City of Corner Brook, participated in the workshop held at Corner Brook City Hall and facilitated by Jim Stanton, president of Stanton Associates.
LeRiche said when there’s an event or incident communication is usually the weak link in it all.
Ultimately though, he said the groups or organizations involved want to get accurate information out to the public so that they can make decisions.
He used declaring a state of emergency as an example and said even if an evacuation is called some people don’t know that unless it is legislated that people don’t have to go.
“But we want them out of that area, so we want to make sure an important message goes out, so they can determine what kind of risk they’re exposed to and be able to make that decision to go,” LeRiche said.
He said this applies to any type of incident or event from a flood to a hurricane, a fire or industrial accident.
“When that happens people need the information to be able to make decisions,” he said.
LeRiche added it’s also important for people to know that when there is an incident the organization can say what its doing to respond to it.
“So what we want to be able to do is to have people prepared to work with media, for instance ... for having a prepared message to drive,” he said.
LeRiche said the media can be a huge help to the emergency plan of a community, as carrier of the message, when it is factored into that plan.
He said that social media also has a role to play in the dissemination of information, but it’s important that the information be accurate.
Safety Services NL has three key program areas — traffic safety, occupational health and safety and community safety.