If you haven’t been to see Jurassic World yet, hurry while it’s still in theaters. Even though it has somewhat of a predictable story line and didn’t give me quite the scare as the original Jurassic Park movie, it was enjoyable to watch and still thrilling to see dinosaurs on the big screen. But enough about my very amateur review. Being in the emergency communications industry, I couldn’t help but think about some of the lessons that can be learned from the way the, eh, emergency situation was handled. I’ll try not to spoil the plot if you haven’t seen it, but I can’t make any promises! Without further ado, below are three things Jurassic World can teach us about emergency communications.
- When things go downhill, be honest.
Honesty is the best policy, right? Yes! Especially when a giant, genetically engineered Indominus Rex has escaped its enclosure and is heading towards your guests. When the fearless dino begins charging toward the park’s thousands of guests, the managers decide it was best to activate their “retrieval” plans by sending their Asset Containment Unit (ACU) to fetch the mean beast (good!) but they decided to keep the park’s guests in the dark about the situation (bad!). Internally, emergency communications were flowing but externally you could hear crickets.
Lesson Learned: When a dino escapes, evacuate everyone immediately! Apply this to any emergency situation. Activate emergency communications both internally and externally to your employees, guests and customers — all stakeholder. Keep everyone informed and aware about emergency situations and if a life-threatening situation occurs, communicate immediately. Implementing emergency communications on time will increase levels of safety and help keep reputations intact. Bottom line — communicate early and often.
- When doing something inherently dangerous, make sure emergency communications are rock solid.
Let’s talk about the hamster ball. If you haven’t seen the movie, at the park guests can take a ride in what looks like a giant, glass hamster ball and roam in the meadows with the friendly dinosaurs. But when disaster strikes—oh no! No cell phone reception. Snap! If only they could have received a phone call! It was convenient for the movie that guests in the hamster ball couldn’t receive any emergency communications. In reality, I am hoping this ride would have failed its safety checks.
Lesson Learned: When guests are roaming with dinosaurs, make sure they can make a simple phone call! In (real) reality, make sure you not only have a way to communicate to your guests, customers and employees but make sure they have a way to communicate back to you — especially if they are put in a dangerous situation. Bottom line — implement a sturdy communications infrastructure so you have the ability to communicate if the need arises.
- Have a clear chain of command or decision making hierarchy for emergency situations and emergency communications.
In the movie, there were several characters that made decisions without consulting one another leading to confusion and chaos. These blunders made for a rousing movie but definitely did not provide a good example of how decision making should be handled.
Lesson Learned: Identify a clear hierarchy of decision makers for a variety of emergency communications situations. Make sure all personnel know who to report to and who to receive directions from. Once key decision makers are identified, make sure they know their roles and the rest of your organization does as well. People will respond better if they know in advance what to expect. Have a back-up person identified for all key personnel in case of their absence or in the unlikely but possible event that someone becomes incapacitated. Bottom line — identify key personnel and decision makers before an emergency occurs.
In a nutshell, be honest and upfront about emerging situations, have a solid emergency communications infrastructure in place and identify a communications chain of command. In the world of emergency communications, planning and practice will make your preparations go the distance when it counts.
I took a light-hearted approach to a serious subject today. Even though this blog included a little bit of fun and magic of the big screen, take these lessons learned to heart and prepare your organizations for whatever your worst case scenario might be. Preparation, planning and discussions about and improvements to emergency communications procedures will help ensure success of prehistoric proportions when you need it the most.