5 Communications Tips for International Evacuations and Emergencies
If you may encounter or are responsible for the planning of international evacuations and emergency relocations, then you need to read this article. In this article we will discuss, evacuation communication mediums, mobile communications, satellite phones, faxes and languages. The information outlined in this article is best suited to HR, safety, emergency, security, risk, country and regional executives. This includes all those that travel for business too. By the end of this article you will have a quick appreciation of the best communications options to include in evacuations and considerations for planning.
Evacuation plans are an option, not an obligation to be implemented in any-and-all circumstances.
Therefore, it is important that all travellers, expatriates, families, managers, providers and governments be very clear if-and-when an evacuation will be initiated and not considered the first and only option or obligation for international and transnational crisis.
Stakeholder analysis must be continuously conducted to ensure the right parties are communicated to and the right importance apportioned.
Appropriate tone, medium and timing must be planned, managed and measured.
1. Mediums and Channels
Use every means available.
Many non-traditional mediums will need prior experience and training before instantaneous activation.
Social technologies (inclusive of social media) are constantly evolving and improving so continuous training will be mandatory to produce results under duress at short notice.
Integration with internal stakeholders and allocation of responsibility and authority should have already been covered in the plan.
Develop a catchment strategy for evacuees and operational managers to switch for emergency purposes or failure of any other primary means.
Video, images, maps, audio, text and many other options can be used in parallel or independently for communicating to all stakeholders.
Internet messenger services, internal or external, can be an extremely efficient and fast way of micro updates and communications.
Conference calls and group call lines are important and must be readily accessible or available on demand.
Corporate blogs or event specific blogs (again, better if set up in advance) can be used as a substitute for activity boards and encourages group sharing of images, news, information, video and so on.
2. Mobile Communications
Mobile communications will fail.
Networks can fail, become overwhelmed, controlled by governments or simply be less developed than first world countries.
Do not over emphasize the use or reliance on mobile networks.
Have plans for WHEN they fail.
Have alternates, and alternates and alternates.
Have a lost communications plan and actions to reconnect with those that may have been isolated or need direction/support.
3. Satellite Phones
Consider the use and supply of satellite phones due to the greater coverage, ease of use and cheaper rates in recent years.
Know and understand government rules, restrictions or paranoia around the use and carriage of satellite phones.
They may be illegal, restricted or see you targeted as a criminal/terrorist for the possession of one.
Don?t forget about fax communications.
It may be dated but many countries still use this option.
Handwritten notes, blank paper, quick online fax connection and you have an update or means to push information.
Include bi-lingual communications so that notes can be passed via intermediaries such as hotels staff, responders, in-country staff and so on if direct communications are likely to be affected.
Push messaging with translations on key phrases or requests for assistance, directions and medical assistance can also be engaged.
Record and store all communications for legal and post-activity analysis.
Establish archives and sites for on-ground reporting and video updates as part of your decision making process to be less dependent on just media sources.
Set scheduled broadcast, updates, briefings and decision making sessions.
Include supporting elements such as PR, HR, finance and operations in select meetings to save on retransmission times and get their input/perspective.
Establish a roster, timetable, scheduled rest, eating and support sessions for your team within the first hour of incident.
It will run longer than you think.
Remember, crisis management is like wrestling a bear, you rest when the bear rests!
Communications is a tool for management; maintain management and engagement at all times.
?If you may encounter or are responsible for the planning of international evacuations and emergency relocations, then you should benefit from this article. In this article we discussed, evacuation communication mediums, mobile communications, satellite phones, faxes and languages. The information outlined in this article is best suited to HR, safety, emergency, security, risk, country and regional executives. This includes all those that travel for business too. You should now have a quick appreciation of the best communications options to include in evacuations and considerations for planning.