Tuesday, November 17, 2015

It's a gamble

This past weekend, I was in Las Vegas. No, I didn't go for a bachelor party, nor did I go to play any high-stakes gaming. Although, there were plenty of opportunities for that.

No, I was there to do some Public Information instruction for the International Association of Emergency Managers annual conference. Which happened to be held on the Strip in downtown Las Vegas.

In a casino resort named the Paris.

The poignancy of which was not lost on me or any of the other students in the class, given the events which unfolded 5,400 miles to the east in the real Paris last Friday.

When it comes to emergency management, what are we trying to do? Whether it's a hurricane, earthquake, hazardous material spill or a coordinated terror attack, we are trying to prepare ourselves and our residents for the eventuality of low-probability but high-impact events. We want our residents to go about their daily lives, yet understand that they need to be be ready in the event that something should transpire.

Do they know where to go? Are there enough emergency supplies on hand? What would they do in the event a situation began to spiral out of control? Where are the exits to the building, and can they be found quickly.

As I flew home from the training yesterday, I was asked by the flight attendants to review the seat back safety card on both flights from Las Vegas to Tampa in the event that something happened and I had to react quickly should something happen on the flight. Now, the odds of something happening on the flight that would require me to make a hasty evacuation from the plane are pretty slim - almost as slim as me striking it rich at the craps tables in Vegas.

But, would I be ready to take immediate action in the event something did happen?

That's how we need to be thinking when it comes to our roles as Public Information Officers.

Tom Iovino, Public Relations Strategist
Hillsborough County, Florida

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