Shit in - shit out. A modern digital crisis management tool is only as good as the people who use it. Therefore, emergency staff must establish simple and clear rules on how to communicate. When incidents happen, it's the first few minutes that are essential for how the crisis is handled. Hence, it is important that relevant information is available, but also it’s equally important that everyone involved understands it.
We have previously written about why crisis management very often fails. Small, relatively simple and predictable tasks are handled in a clumsy manner, and overall, the development of the crisis is poorly controlled.
A modern emergency support tool is very powerful and an incredibly good platform to work from. It is primarily a place where all relevant information is stored and is available to those who have tasks to perform. If somebody, who has the requisite skills, is assigned the task of formatting and inputting information, the support tool will provide the ability to delegate responsibilities and tasks appropriately
Cooperation that works
Do the people who work with emergency response and crisis management in the organisation speak the same language? To communicate well, the members of the emergency staff must know their roles and where they can obtain the necessary information to perform their duties. This is a necessary basis for making good decisions.
Modern organisations often operate in many geographical locations. A digital crisis management tool enables the emergency staff to work in a distributed manner. Logging, recording, and reporting helps keep track of the information and makes it possible for everyone to be up to date.
The manager is responsible for arranging the first meeting. An important condition for an effective implementation and good communication between the staff is that there’s a fixed agenda. This applies regardless of the type of event. Thus, everyone can prepare and can contribute in their areas. The same applies when the manager sets the next status meeting. The participant's responsibility, then, is to join the meeting with updated information.
Time is of the essence when an incident occurs. Emergency staff rarely have enough time to obtain all the information they should have. They must make decisions based on what they know, but this information must be correct and understandable! This is where the action cards become important. They define clear tasks for each function. They are written in a clear and concise format and should be used as a checklist that applies regardless of the type of event you are facing. The cards should also have the functionality of assigning tasks to other staff members.
In addition to the cards being short and concise, you should also have a plan for initiating staff meetings, notifying internal resources and preparing areas where the staff can work undisturbed. Whoever is responsible for this function should be so well versed that he or she knows exactly how the tasks should be performed. For cases where you need additional information, such as a checklist, this should be available in the overall emergency plan. A supporting document can, for example, contain items and descriptions relating to the preparation of the work space for the staff or a guide to conducting staff meetings.
How to practise?
Communication within the emergency staff is about basic skills. Staff can be trained without using a lot of resources. There are, for example; simple table top exercises available that the group can use to practise regularly. The staff responsible for issuing warnings, and other forms of crisis management must also exercise frequently. Check that the people who should receive warnings receive it and that receipts/ feedback works. Also, make sure you have the right level of access, and that you have mastered the features you need in the tool.