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An Easter Tale 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: "An Easter Tale The following slides represent a realistic public health crisis event and you are charged with developing first messages for the public."— Presentation transcript:

1 An Easter Tale 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 Every year, over a hundred families come together for an Easter celebration that includes an Easter egg hunt as well as a community cook-out and picnic. This years Easter Sunday celebration has been moved from Brookner Park to Parsons Park. Parsons Park has limited green space, is not as well-tended and is rumored to be an unsafe location after dark. Many people in the surrounding community have voiced dissatisfaction over relocating the celebration but plan to attend anyway.

3 DAY 1: Easter Sunday Brookner Park As with previous celebrations, the cook-out is staffed by volunteer food workers from the local schools. The Mayor and other local elected officials attend the event to hand out free cellophane- wrapped chocolate bunnies and marshmallow treats to the children. Unfortunately, one of the children, intently searching for eggs in the bushes, finds a syringe. The childs mother tells her friend and throws it away.

4 DAY 2: Monday - 10:00 a.m. Brookner Schools 10 elementary students and 5 middle school students develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is called to the schools due to the high number of children reporting similar symptoms. 2 of the children are hospitalized with high fever, severe diarrhea and dehydration. 4 teachers also report similar symptoms but not as severe.

5 DAY 2: Monday – 11:45 a.m. Parsons School EMS is also called to Parsons Elementary School where 12 students report symptoms of diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. 3 of the children are taken to the hospital to be treated for dehydration. Dozens of parents have excused children from school due to illness. In some families, all the children in the household are at home ill.

6 DAY 2: Monday – 12:15 p.m. Brookner and Parsons Schools EMS report to the principals that the symptoms may suggest Salmonella poisoning. The principals at each school contact the Public Health Department. Public Health authorities launch an investigation.

7 Additional Information Test results for Salmonella poisoning may take 2 to 3 days.

8 Review the Facts What is currently known? –27 school children are sick with similar symptoms: diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps. –5 children have been hospitalized and treated for dehydration. –There is a high rate of school absenteeism at both Brookner and Parsons schools. –4 teachers have milder versions of the same symptoms as the children.

9 Review the Facts What is currently unknown? –The cause of the illness. –The connection between the children and teachers.

10 DAY 2: Monday – 1:00 p.m. Brookner Hospital A school food service worker who had volunteered at the Easter Sunday event is admitted to Brookner Hospital. Traces of heroin are in the food service workers blood sample. School food service co-workers gossip and speculate about the connection between the food service worker and the ill children.

11 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? –School food service workers –Other school staff –Parents of sick children

12 DAY 2: Monday – 3:00 p.m. Brookner Police A parent finds a puncture mark in the chocolate Easter Bunny package from the Easter Egg Hunt. He calls police AND the media. Police find a syringe in bushes where the Easter Egg Hunt was held. A test of the syringe reveals blood and heroin.

13 DAY 2: Monday – 4:30 p.m. Channel 4 - Early Afternoon News The news media reports that students and faculty in local schools are rapidly falling ill from a mysterious illness. The reporter says, School officials refuse to speculate on a possible connection between the ill school children and a Parsons Elementary School food service worker who overdosed on heroin earlier today.

14 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?

15 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.

16 DAY 2: Monday – 6:30 p.m. Brookner Hospital Brookner Hospital releases half of the admitted children who are improving after receiving intravenous fluids and antibiotics.

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

18 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.

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

20 Sharing Your Group Results Sample First Message:

21 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.

22 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.

23 Share Your Group Results Sample questions: What is causing the illness? How do I protect my children? What is being done to solve the problem? Whats the connection to heroin?

24 An Easter Tale with Bad Bunnies The Public Health investigation reveals that all of the children and adults who were sick had attended the Easter Sunday event at the park. They all ate the free chocolate bunnies handed out by the Mayor. The chocolate used to make the bunnies contained salmonella. People across the country are sick from the bunnies and the bunnies are recalled. The local crisis resolves itself in about 7 days. After that time no one else falls ill.

25 Next Steps

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