News Media (Getting Public Information Out During Local Emergencies and Disasters)

News Media (Getting Public Information Out During Local Emergencies and Disasters)

Elmore County EMA works with multiple partners regarding the dissemination of public information—both routine and crisis/disaster information. Fostering strong partnerships helps ensure the public is provided information needed during times of local emergencies and disasters in the most accurate and expeditious manner possible.

Public information becomes exceptionally critical during times of local emergencies and disasters. Generally speaking, Elmore County EMA is responsible for the following:

  1.  Building strong media relations based on comprehensive preparation & planning
  2. Distinguishing between three levels of activity: day-to-day, local emergency, and disaster; Responding accordingly to each
  3. Planning effectively for media reaction during routine and emergency situations
  4. Preparing elected officials & emergency management speakers for news conferences and media interactions
  5. Monitoring current conditions, providing “ground truth” to the NWS regarding credible reported happenings during severe weather events, especially when under weather warnings such as tornado, severe thunderstorm, flash flooding, and flooding
  6. Working cooperatively as part of a Joint Information System, when activated
  7. Ensuring constitutionally protected rights are upheld; ensuring EMA’s relationship with the media is consistent with law, policy, and departmental procedures

Examples of public information released by the Elmore County EMA during times of local emergencies and disasters may include:

  1.  Evacuation Orders, Shelter-In-Place Orders, Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Releases, Impending Dam Breach/Failure, Boil Water Notices, and Road Conditions/Travel Advisories/Resumption of Travel Announcements
  2. Disaster Assistance: Public Assistance (PA) and Individual Assistance (IA)
  3. Locations of Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs), Volunteer Reception Centers (VRCs), Points of Distribution (PODs)
  4. Activation of Safer Places (i.e., locations, duration)
  5. Requests for donated goods; termination of flow of donated goods
  6. Call for affiliated and unaffiliated volunteers

Elmore County EMA utilizes the following means to disseminate public information:

  1.  EMA website
  2. Broadcast Media (TV, Radio)
  3. Print Media
  4. World Wide Web, social networking

A “success story” reflecting the development of such strong partnerships can be found in the Integrated Warning Team (IWT) – Central Alabama.

The Integrated Warning Team (IWT) of Central Alabama consists of local (county, city, university) emergency managers, broadcast meteorologists, and National Weather Service personnel. Each partner has a critical mission to fulfill in getting emergency public information out.

The IWT melded together in 2012, after the devastating tornados in Alabama in April 2011, by virtue of a joint interest in protecting citizens through the weather forecast and warning process. Members have attended IWT Workshops to discuss areas of improvement, local and agency-wide strategies, and ways to work better together to improve the future safety of Alabama citizens. During each workshop, participants developed better understandings of the missions, roles, and obstacles faced by IWT members in protecting Alabama citizens in the weather warning process.

The Elmore County EMA will continue working diligently with all our partners to ensure citizens are provided with the most accurate, timely and thorough public information possible, at all times.