Q: Why are communications so important?
A: After my experience of working on five national disasters, correct information in real-time especially during the first 12 hours to 24 hours saves lives and connects loved ones. This starts to stabilize a chaotic situation. Communications is especially critical to first responders in their roles to save lives and restore public safety. Additionally, communication is important so that misinformation doesn't escalate the public fear in such a crisis.
Q: What lessons can corporations/organizations glean from this experience, as far as crisis management?
A: Lessons include family and employee safety — put a process in place to check on families, employees and their needs; survey how a disaster may affect your business and capability of continuing to provide products and services to customers; identify ways to provide your products and services to aid in relief efforts, such as through your trade association; and ask your professional association to inventory their members' skills that could be utilized in disasters to help save lives. For example, the Association of Oklahoma General Contractors reached out to its members for cranes, construction lights, earth movers and pallet jacks during the lifesaving rescue phase of the tornadoes.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER