|I'm sure it looked just like that!|
It's perfectly normal to have that type of reaction. In those times where we haven't experienced a situation similar to the one we are enduring, it can be a difficult, often confusing situation which prevents quick and decisive action.
And, let's face it, emergencies by their very nature can throw curve balls at us all the time. All of the training in the world can sometimes become worthless when something totally unexpected happens. Let's face it, during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, when people were speculating wildly about crude oil washing up on our shores, we weren't 100% sure how to address the specific concerns, how oil boom worked or what our beaches were going to look like after all of this was over.
|Establishing contacts in a command post|
Or, we can seek out a public information officer who may have more experience in the situation, and inform them that they are on point. Which, of course doesn't quite relieve you of your responsibilities. No, until that PIO can get things up and running, it's always a good idea to stick around and offer your assistance until they have matters in hand.
How do you develop the skills to know which way to go? Well, there's really no substitute for experience, and the more you find yourself involved in situations, the easier this becomes.
|Getting the information out|
Most importantly, don't be afraid to step in and take some action if you see the public information component isn't being covered. Remember, when incidents happen, people are more concerned about apprehending the bad guy, putting out the fire or rescuing people from rubble, not necessarily the timely and accurate flow of information. It's better to take the initiative at first to ensure that position is staffed until further help arrives.
It's better than being stuck in the middle of the road.
Tom Iovino, Public Information Specialist
Pinellas County, Florida