Thursday, June 25, 2015

A world of hurt

In case you were wondering, this movie about dinosaurs has been all the rage at the theaters for the past few weeks, breaking quite a few box office records.

This movie is on its way to break a ton of records
Of course, Jurassic World has captured the imagination of movie-going audiences across the globe, and inspired more than a few zookeepers to do their imitation of a famous scene involving star Chris Pratt and his scary Velociraptors.

Awww, how cute!  
I don't think I will be giving away any surprises when I tell you that the movie involves the escape of one of the dangerous dinosaurs, which leads to all kinds of mayhem.

As an emergency manager, this is where I munched my popcorn just a little bit harder. You see, the screenwriter, director and actors all wanted you to believe that the park's sorta-kinda plan to deal with the issue really wasn't all that well fleshed out. And, when it failed, things didn't go so well.

An interesting premise, especially given that the movie takes place approximately 20 years after the first Jurassic Park movie took place ... on the same island ... and we're expected to believe that the park's managers didn't learn from the issues from two decades ago. I mean, come on, people. Dinosaurs. They already had a history of being smart enough to break out of their enclosures and attack people. You would have figured someone would have developed a better response plan.

Damage in San Francisco's Marina District after the earthquake
But, as emergency public information officers, how effectively do we deal with educating our public and media about threats that return infrequently?  Let's explore something that happened just a few years before the original Jurassic movie came out in 1992 - the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake that took place near San Francisco.

This 6.9 temblor caused nearly $6 billion in damages, killed 63 and injured more than 3,700. Yet, a study conducted by the state of California's Emergency Management office shows that only about 40% of state residents have a family disaster plan, and only about 20% of residents have done anything to improve their structures to better withstand an earthquake.

Tornadoes? Hurricanes? Wildfires? Floods? We all know these are not everyday events, and the longer the time since the last event, the more likely you are going to see new residents who don't have experience with that disaster, or residents who do have experience who can't remember just how bad things were.

Keeping them educated about what to do? That's a T. Rex size problem, complete with teeth...

Tom Iovino, Public Relations Strategist
Hillsborough County, Florida

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