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Southbridge Scurry The following slides represent a realistic public health crisis event and you are charged with developing first messages for the public.

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Presentation on theme: "Southbridge Scurry The following slides represent a realistic public health crisis event and you are charged with developing first messages for the public."— Presentation transcript:

1 Southbridge Scurry The following slides represent a realistic public health crisis event and you are charged with developing first messages for the public.

2 Setting the Stage Southbridge Highlands is a high-end, indoor shopping mall in the heart of a vibrant suburban community. During the week, the shopping mall attracts thousands of professionals who work at Biotech and other companies in the surrounding area. Several hundred mothers with young children typically frequent the shopping mall food court throughout the day. A senior center sponsors daily mall walks as part of their senior wellness program.

3 DAY 1: Monday Southbridge Highlands This week, Asian business executives are participating in a series of high profile meetings at a well-known company in the Southbridge area. Today, a gourmet lunch for the foreign visitors is planned at an upscale restaurant next to the Southbridge Highlands food court.

4 DAY 1: Monday – 11:47 a.m. Food Court Dozens of people just outside the food court begin to experience severe cramping and difficulty breathing. Some people start having convulsive seizures, and a number of people collapse. A food service worker alerts complex security officer, who immediately calls Fire and emergency medical responders are dispatched to the scene and Public Health officials are notified.

5 DAY 1: Monday – 11:49 a.m. Food Court The security officer rushes to the food court and directs everyone who is still mobile to leave the shopping mall. The officer reports what he sees to his supervisor, who makes an immediate appeal via loudspeaker for all people to leave the complex. Minutes later, the security officer and several food service workers collapse.

6 DAY 1: Monday – 11:52 a.m. Food Court Fire and hazmat responders arrive at the scene wearing personal protective gear. Victims are moved away from the food court for decontamination. Handheld chemical detection equipment identifies the contaminating chemical as sarin. Authorities keep in mind that rapid detectors are not the most reliable, but are still used in field for preliminary testing. More sophisticated laboratory testing is underway.

7 Could the Word Get Out? Although you have not made any public announcements, could the word get out? –Yes! How could the word get out? –Food court patrons –Police and Emergency Responder radios

8 DAY 1: Monday – 11:54 a.m. Southbridge Highlands Emergency Medical Service workers treat victims with a nerve agent antidote and provide necessary respiratory support. Ambulances arrive to transport people to local hospitals.

9 DAY 1: Monday – 11:56 a.m. Southbridge Highlands Local media have picked up information via emergency radio frequencies that something potentially serious is going on at Southbridge Highlands and rush to the scene. Media reporters see dozens of physically ill and emotionally distraught people dragging themselves out of the mall complex. Its rumored that the company hosting the foreign visitors had received an anonymous call threatening to disrupt the meeting.

10 DAY 1: Monday – 12:15 p.m. Southbridge Highlands A local TV station interrupts regular programming to inform viewers of the terror at Southbridge Highlands.

11 Review the Facts What is currently known? –Preliminary tests report the material to be sarin. –Dozens of people have been treated with the antidote for sarin and transported to the hospital.

12 Review the Facts What is currently unknown? –Confirmation of the sarin agent. –The source and origination of the agent. –The exact number of patrons that came into direct contact with the agent.

13 Communicating With the Media What is the best way to handle the media during a crisis? Do you … a)respond to reporters on a one-on-one, first- come-first-served basis OR, b)issue a news release OR, c)hold a news conference?

14 Communicating With the Media The best way to handle the media during this crisis is to … c)Hold a news conference. –This is fast-breaking news, the public will want to know whats happening and whos in charge. –Talking to reporters individually could lead to inconsistency of information given to the public. –After the news conference, send a news release to your full media list with all of the same information that was presented at the news conference.

15 What Are You Going to Say? Break into groups of 4 to 6 people, develop your first messages using the six proven steps.

16 Deliver An Effective First Message 1.Express empathy. 2.Share what you know – only confirmed facts. 3.State what you dont know. 4.Describe the process and plans to fill in knowledge gaps. 5.State your agencys commitment to helping people through the crisis. 6.Guide people to where they can get more information.

17 Sharing Your First Messages Report to the large group the first messages your group developed.

18 Sharing Your Group Results Sample First Message:

19 Now … Anticipate the Questions In your groups of 4 to 6 people, develop a list of questions you would expect the media and the public to ask.

20 Anticipate the Questions What are the questions that are likely to be asked as a crisis unfolds? –Anticipate questions from the people that are directly impacted by the crisis. –Anticipate questions from the general public. –Anticipate questions from the media.

21 Share Your Group Results Sample questions: If I havent gotten sick yet, am I still at risk? What should I do if I think Ive been exposed to someone who was exposed? What are the symptoms of sarin exposure and how long do they last? When is it going to be safe to eat in the food court? Whats the government doing to protect us? Has anyone died? Whos responsible for this mayhem?

22 Sarin at Southbridge The chemical was set off by a device found in a trash bin located at a food court entrance. The chemical is confirmed as sarin. 73 people have been taken to local hospitals. Several elderly people are in critical condition. 4 people have died. Local Public Health authorities are working with the FBI to conduct an investigation.

23 Next Steps

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