The unthinkable is happening. Lives are now at risk. The clock is ticking.
What do you do during the first minute of a critical incident?
The first minute is an adrenaline-fueled race against the clock. Add an emotional rush of panic and anxiety... now you must orchestrate your crisis communications plan. This is the most important minute of an emergency response; it sets the wheels in motion for the duration of the incident. The speed and accuracy of information and the initiated actions will impact the successful outcome of an emergency.
There is no second chance to get the first minute right. That is why it is essential to plan well in advance and be ready to execute your crisis communications plan. There are three core elements to any communications plan that need to happen during the first minute of a verified incident:
- Inform (Emergency Notification)
Providing the information necessary to keep people out of harm's way is paramount to any emergency response. The time to initiate the notification can impact the overall outcome of the incident. The content of the notification must also be clear and actionable.
It is important to provide the right information to the right people, via the right medium. Communicating to your people in the way they consume information where they are: whether text message, desktop alerts, phone calls, digital signage, or social media. Notify your people with concise information, and keep in mind that different groups of people may need different information (administrators, staff, the public, first responders, etc.).
- Mobilize (resources)
Request backup by law enforcement, ambulance, fire, and other first responders to assist in the incident response. Again, every single second counts when it comes to providing life-saving resources to a situation that involves injury.
Imagine if an ambulance and emergency medical technicians arrives to help a few minutes sooner? If the emergency response team is engaged in just seconds after the incident is confirmed?
Once the incident is confirmed, it is necessary to discuss the next steps in the incident response with members of your Crisis Communications Team.
You can do this by initiating an outbound telephone conference bridge with your Crisis Communications Team. This enables an instant unified command regardless of the proximity of the participants.
If you have access to screen sharing or webcasting resources such as GoToMeeting, Webex, Google Hangouts, Join.me or any similar service, you can link to an unscheduled meeting session. This enables a visual element to the collaboration that will help inform the next steps to take in your response.
The good news is that there is new technology available that enables Emergency Managers to program incident scenarios that can be initiated with one step. Emergency notification, collaboration, and summoning resources can sequentially happen in seconds, increasing your probability for a successful emergency response outcome. Spend time crafting the first set of actions into your emergency notification system so you will be prepared during the Most Important Minute.