Friday, October 2, 2009

Communication Is The Key

Civil Defence logoPublic Relations:101 - inform people!
During this week's Civil Defence response to the Samoa tsunami, this most basic lesson was forgotten. The poor information flow seemed to begin in Hawaii, where the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said (contrary to its name!) that it did not issue tsunami warnings – that was up to individual countries. All it did was state whether a tsunami was building, but it couldn't do that until a few markers had been hit so it could analyse data (sadly, one of those hit 'markers' was Samoa).
Samoa: the aftermath...If that is so, then blame must lie with NZ Civil Defence HQ, which appears to have not contacted major news networks with warnings – even though there're dedicated 'hotlines' for this. Information that did filter through (to some locations and not to others) seemed contradictory and confused: for example, Wellington Airport, sitting just 13m.above sea level was not notified at all!
On breakfast tv, the CD spokesman dodged questions, labelled eyewitness accounts of death and injury "rumours" and said he'd provide "some details in an hour"...about the time a tsunami was expected to strike!
When Civil Defence situations arise, fast accurate and regular information flow is needed. This week, we did not get it. Again. How many times will CD fluff a "near-miss", before The Real Thing catches it out?

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