What are the biggest communication challenges in emergency measures? Second Part

In the first part of the biggest communication challenges for emergency services, we’ve made the exercise to question first responders on their perceptions of communication barriers in crisis situations.

From a more theoretical point of view, it’s interesting to raise other issues that have not been mentioned in the discussions on social medias. The article Plans de secours d’information et gestion de crise en situation d’urgence : une culture du risque à construite raises extremely interesting facts. Authors suggest that in a crisis situation, several stakeholders have to work together, which create a kind of ‘’temporary community’’. The fact that these people have to work together sporadically increases without any doubt the complexity of crisis communication.

On the other hand, the communication challenges are due to many other factors such as: cultural, political, institutional, technological, etc. Let us use a concrete example, the Nepal earthquake. It is not only the local emergency services that have to intervene on the ground, but people from everywhere around the world. We can easily imagine that language, culturel and technological barriers represent an additional challenge due to the fact that traditional networks are often unavailable.

Except all the emergency services, other stakeholders are led to participate to the communicational process in crisis situations such as the population and the medias. In regard to the population, they often act as informants beside the emergency measures, so what kind of place do we have to leave to them? A difficult question for several emergency services…

On the one hand, the population and medias require information and on the other hand, organizations in charge of the crisis management have to ensure that disclosed information is true and reliable. We face an additional dilemma in crisis situations.

The conclusion is similar to the one that we arrived to in the first part of the blog. This conclusion is to the effect that even if there are some technological advances that facilitate emergency communications, it remains true that the human being will always remain a key element in the communication process.

Source : Juanals, B & Perriault, J. (2006). Plans de secours d’information et gestion de crise en situation d’urgence : une culture du risque à construire. Communication et organisation. P.93-106.