Communication in emergency management


Emergency is an event or situation that occurs unpredictably causing damage to man and society. Management of emergencies is not as easy as event management. In emergency management, one has to be quicker, more knowledgeable and more resourceful in dealing with and solving emergency cases.

In the same way that event management requirescommunicationamong its key persons (organizer, speakers, etc.), emergency management needs more of this element in order to carry out emergency plans well, for an effective damage prevention. The key players in managing well an emergency, namely thedoctor, fire chief and police chief, must talk to one another not only to effectively do their part in the emergency management process, but also to be able to minimize as much as possible the damage done or threatening to be done.

Emergency Management 101

Dealing with emergencies is not a joke. It is a serious and urgent situation requiring immediate action so that no further harm can be made. Emergency defined is an urgent situation or occurrence threatening grave damage to man and society (P&I Services, 2006). Although emergencies are unpredictable, they can be dealt with proper knowledge and understanding both in handling the particular emergency and preventing further harm.

Emergency management in its simplest sense is the process of managing emergencies or urgent situations. Managing an emergency includes assessment or assistance to affected party/ies, prevention of further damage, preparation for “ after-shock’s”, responding to the situation swiftly and calmly, and recovering from such emergency situations (P&I Services, 2006).

Emergency Management Players

The key players in the emergency management process are the hospital, fire department, and police department. The heads of these three institutions all contribute their part in the effective management of an emergency situation, and all their contributions greatly affect the success orfailureof an emergency management.

Hospitals arehealthinstitutions that cater to the physical or biological welfare of people. Their role in emergency management is to ensure the health condition of affected parties. They are very important in a sense that their concern, which is human health, is of great importance to an individual, and in emergencies, threatening this part of human welfare is the first concern of an individual (Canton, 2006).

The fire department on the other hand prevents the spreading of fire, the start of one, and minimizes the effects of fire to the people. Fire is a natural need of man to cookfoodfor him, keep him warm, etc. But too much fire can threaten his welfare. The fire department, in the emergency management process, mobilizes fire situation if there is one, and prevents such fire from starting in order to minimize the harm already done.

And of course, the police department plays a vital role in the documentation of emergencies. The first thing they do in an emergency situation is to mobilize the vicinity involved in the emergency, organizing the people within the vicinity to maximize the help and assistance they can contribute in the proper and effective management of the disaster at hand.

These key players need to work together because even though they work differently, all their actions affect not just one another, but the whole emergency situation itself as well. Effective communication is the key to a productive and optimized management of emergencies.

Emergency Management Process

The flow of an emergency management is as follows:

First is the occurrence of the emergency. Emergencies take the form of major fire or explosion, flood, earthquake, storm or cyclone or twister, dangerous or threatening person/s (stalker/s, kidnapper/s, etc.), civil disorder, gas leak, chemical spill, and others. The initial response emergency management key players is to stay calm. As key players, their mind is in ensuring the welfare of people, particularly others not themselves, and not on things (Deakin University, 2006).

With an emergency management coordinator around, s/he surveys the scene, before assigning tasks and assignments to his/her key players. S/he will weigh the graveness of each victim’s predicament then prioritize those who need help most at the most immediate time, and only then would s/he delegate the task at hand (Deakin University, 2006).

Once the key players see the damage, they do their roles and organize themselves to cater to the needs of people. They start do what should be done to stop or minimize the effect of the crisis and to prevent further harm. The emergency management team would have to do their tasks on the spot since the emergency they are about to accomplish require their immediate attention (Deakin University, 2006).

After having briefly dealt with the emergencies, victims are then evacuated to some place near and can accommodate to their needs more attentively.

And of course, as emergency coordinator, s/he will gather his/her team and evaluate the work they have just done.

Communication During Emergency Management

The key players work together, and so they could consider themselves a team. One could not completely accomplish a task if not for the help of another team mate. Their work is seen as a team, not as an individual, and so it is important that they communicate well with one another.

The basic way to get them to talk to one another is to give them a reason to do so. Say, ask one of your key players to ask another key player about something. This strategy works when they have just met, and your team is not yet, of course, in the middle of a crisis.

People are confident and comfortable in talking with another individual once they know something about them, even just their name. And so, as an emergency management coordinator, it would not hurt to hold an activity on the first meeting. Not only would they know who they work with, but also it gives them the chance to get comfortable working as a team, and trust one another as team mates.

Manychildhoodactivities do work in order to get the people communicating with one another. People may lack the initiative and confidence to speak to another because of indifference. Games do sound childlike, but then grown-ups find these as guilty pleasures. Name games and getting-to-know-you games are great starts for individuality-introduction activities.

It would also greatly help if you, yourself as coordinator, do the talking first. Ask them about their interests, what they do other than the job they have, their history and the like. People talk when they know someone listens. Show that as coordinator, you want to listen, you are interested in your key player, and that you encourage others as well to listen and be interested.

The art of talking does not only consist of saying everything about anything, rather saying things that concern your team that are of interest to them. Share your stories, to get them to share theirs, but then do not go overboard. Once they start, let them just handle the flow of the discussion.

Another way of having them conversing with one another is setting up bonding sessions. Short, bonding, group activities allow individuals to be loose for a while and be ordinary human beings mindless of their work. Let them have such at the most convenient time, i. e. after a successful emergency management that didn’t take much of their energy that would also serve as a victory celebration. The opportunities are endless.

Organizing the Emergency Management Group

Organizing an emergency management group is not easy. It is a serious matter dealing with serious situations. Such group involves people—normal, social individuals. Thus, communication cannot possibly be taken away from such group. Communication not only strengthens the ties among the members of the group, but also allows them to work more efficiently.


Canton, L. G. (2006). Emergency management: concepts and strategies for effective programs. New York: Pantheon.

Deakin University. (2006 May, 1). Deakin University: emergency management plan. Retrieved December 12, 2007 from http://www. deakin. edu. au/emergency/policies/procedures/Emergency%20Management%20Plan%202006%20Aug. pdf

P&I Services. (2006 March, 7). Glossary. Retrieved December 12, 2007, from http://www. emergencymanagement. org. uk/faq/glossaryandacronyms/tabid/2090/Default. aspx