It’s taken me days to compose my thoughts as to the mass shooting-massacre at Newtown, CT. As someone in the justice system it hits hard; nothing prepares you for this.
Working with crime victims gives me a unique perspective and I know how a burglary or robbery or violent crime impacts a life. But this takes us all to a dimension unknown. Prayers for the victims. Prayers for America.
Beyond the tragedy, are there lessons?
If there are lessons for government beyond criminological and moral concerns it’s how things change in a heartbeat. It can become government (or any organization) at the speed of light.
I took FEMA and DOJ training decades ago and I was told to be ready for your world to unfold instantly; that you will go from boredom to being overwhelmed in seconds.
It’s not my desire to take on the multitude of issues that are rising rapidly as a result of the overwhelming violence in Connecticut beyond stating that dormant issues can suddenly become front-page news.
Gun control was not an issue during the election. It’s on everybody’s radar now.
Crime and violence was once a leading concern in this country according to national polls twenty years ago. But during the last five it was almost nonexistent. Not now.
How to Prepare:
The bottom-line is preparation and that’s tough to do. Budgets are tight for all of us and dormant issues are hard to prepare for when there are so many competing priorities.
But as implored by FEMA and DOJ trainers, you must be ready to go from normal to operations at the speed of light.
Two things come to mind. First is your emergency plan. Is it up to date? Do you practice it? You will need endless resources instantaneously. Where will the person-power and material come from?
Warning; many bureaucracies like to ponder and discuss questions from the media and public. That won’t happen during emergencies. You simply won’t have the time.
The second is social media. We have enormous power at our disposal through social. Are we prepared to create the audio and video and documents necessary to quickly respond? Do you have the resources to monitor social sites and respond to rumors and uncertainty? Do you have people to create content and populate your web and social channels with relevant information?
Is your emergency plan tied to your social media strategy?
I note with sadness that social sites immediately appeared that were both false and emotionally damaging. See http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/newtown-connecticut-school-shooting-spurs-fake-adam-lanza/story?id=18000970#.UNJfq3PjkyA .
I also note that media coverage can be both confusing and unhelpful, see http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/198545/sandy-hook-coverage-is-good-enough-good-enough/ .
If it happens to you, are you prepared?
There are a wide variety of associations, business and government organizations dealing with endless issues that were nonexistent just a couple of days ago.
The tragedy of Newtown is overwhelming to all of us on so many levels and I pray that society will have the courage to take the necessary steps.
But it also teaches all of us that normal can go to tragic in seconds.
Are we ready?
Again, prayers for the victims. Len.
There are additional articles on emergency social media at http://leonardsipes.com/category/emergency-media-relations/ including the almost instantaneous creation of web and social sites to purposely provide damaging information.