Mars Science Lab JIC Videoconference February 23-24, 2011 Communicating with the Public in a Radiological Emergency Presented by: John J. Lanza, MD, PhD, MPH, FAAP Florida Department of Health Chair, HPS Homeland Security Committee - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Mars Science Lab JIC Videoconference February 23-24, 2011 Communicating with the Public in a Radiological Emergency Presented by: John J. Lanza, MD, PhD, MPH, FAAP Florida Department of Health Chair, HPS Homeland Security Committee

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Title: Mars Science Lab JIC Videoconference February 23-24, 2011 Communicating with the Public in a Radiological Emergency Presented by: John J. Lanza, MD, PhD, MPH, FAAP Florida Department of Health Chair, HPS Homeland Security Committee


1
Mars Science LabJIC VideoconferenceFebruary
23-24, 2011Communicating with the Public in a
Radiological Emergency Presented byJohn J.
Lanza, MD, PhD, MPH, FAAPFlorida Department of
HealthChair, HPS Homeland Security Committee
2
Objectives
  • Prevention is the best policy
  • Proactive vs. reactive
  • Lessons learned from previous emergencies
  • Practical steps for public communication

3
In public health, prevention is the best way to
keep (health) emergencies from happening.I
think that it follows, in respect to
communication with workers and the public, that
providing information before something happens is
better than trying to handle the stressed
communications after it has occurred.
4
Proactive vs. Reactive
  • In earlier radiological emergencies, governments
    and private businesses were mainly reactive to
    the incident rather than proactive.
  • This philosophy lead to many problems that still
    haunt us today

5
Images Affecting the Publics Perception
  • Learning from past experiences

6
Three Mile Island Event(1979)
7
The TMI Experience
  • There was NO significant off-site dose to the
    public, YET
  • 40 percent of the residents within a 15 mile
    radius of the power plant left without official
    advice to do so a total of 145,000
    people evacuated "spontaneously," that is, at
    their own initiative.

Preparedness Planning For a Nuclear Crisis A
Citizen's Guide to Civil Defense and
Self-Protection. U. S. Govt Printing Office.
(Mar, 87)
8
Health Effects from TMI
  • The Kemeny Commission Report concluded that
    "there will either be no case of cancer or the
    number of cases will be so small that it will
    never be possible to detect them. The same
    conclusion applies to the other possible health
    effects."

9
TMI Lessons Learned(Peter Sandman, 2004)
  • Pay attention to communication
  • Err on the alarming side
  • Dont lie, and dont tell half truths
  • Expect the media to be overreassuring too
  • Keep it simple
  • Pay attention to outrage
  • Get the word out

10
TMI Lessons Learned(Peter Sandman, 2004)
  • Pay attention to communication
  • --Not just anyone can be a risk
  • communicator
  • --Risk communications skills are
  • learnable
  • Err on the alarming side (or lose credibility)
  • --Better It's not as bad as we feared.
  • --Than Its worse than we thought.

11
TMI Lessons Learned(Peter Sandman, 2004)
  • Dont lie, and dont tell half truths
  • --Technically accurate, but misleading
  • --People learn the other half truth
  • --Met Ed lost credibility
  • Expect the media to be over-reassuring too
    (happens in a crisis)
  • --60-73 media coverage reassuring
  • --People hear more (-) than () info
  • (Covello 3 goods balance 1 bad)

12
TMI Lessons Learned(Peter Sandman, 2004)
  • Keep it simple
  • --Need simple explanation of complex
  • phenomena
  • --Audiences less tolerant of complexity when
  • upset
  • --Experts speak more complexly when upset

13
TMI Lessons Learned(Peter Sandman, 2004)
  • Pay attention to outrage
  • --Mistrust of officials from Met Ed to NRC
  • fed the fear
  • --Expert disagreement over health effects
  • of radiation
  • --Control the fear give people something
  • to do

14
TMI Lessons Learned(Peter Sandman, 2004)
  • Get the word out (/-)
  • --Usual control of outflow of info
  • --Info available from many sources
  • --Dont try??
  • --Speak with one voice and frequently
  • --Need technical experts
  • to assist those
  • managing the crisis

15
Goiania and ChernobylLessons Learned
  • Both accidents pointed out the need for timely
    information to be available to the media, the
    public, and to the response workers
  • Eventually, led to development of stakeholder
    involvement concepts before an accident occurs

16
Communicating in a Crisis Is Different
  • Public must feel empowered to reduce fear and
    feelings of victimization
  • Mental preparation reduces anxiety
  • Taking action reduces anxiety
  • Uncertainty must be addressed
  • When people are stressed and upset, they want
    to know that you care before they care what you
    know. (Covello)

17
Five Communication Failures That Kill Operational
Success
  • Mixed messages from multiple experts
  • Information released late
  • Paternalistic attitudes
  • Not countering rumors and myths in real-time
  • Public power struggles and confusion

18
How the Public Views Risk
  • Risk viewed as
  • -voluntary
  • -under ones control
  • -with clear benefits
  • -distributed fairly
  • -natural
  • -statistical
  • -from a trusted source
  • -familiar
  • -affecting adults
  • are more accepted than risk viewed as...
  • -being imposed by others
  • -controlled by others
  • -little or no benefit
  • -unfairly distributed
  • -man-made
  • -catastrophic
  • -from an untrusted source
  • -exotic
  • -affecting children

19
Basic ConceptsThis role is not for everyone!
  • Characteristics of a good spokesperson
  • -Communicates simply using easily-understood
    terms
  • -Focus on immediate impact to the public
  • -Able to convey empathy and caring
  • -Demonstrates competence and expertise
  • -Communicates honestly and openly
  • -Shows commitment and dedication
  • -Sensitive and responsive to concerns
  • -Expresses optimism
  • -Stays calm and collected
  • -Exhibits positive body language
  • -Responds quickly to public/media inquiry

20
Keep It Simple!
  • Develop messages at sixth grade reading level
  • -i.e., target message to a 12 year old
  • Stay on message repeat 3 times
  • Avoid jargon and scientifically complex terms

21
Keep It Brief!
  • Messages to the public should be
  • - Brief
  • - Concise
  • - Clear

22
Be Prepared!
  • 95 of all questions and concerns of stakeholders
    are predictable
  • Anticipate in advance
  • Practice answers

23
What the Public Will Ask First
  • Are my family and I safe?
  • What have you found that may affect me?
  • What can I do to protect myself and my family?
  • Who caused this?
  • Can you fix it?

24
What the Media Will Ask First
  • What happened?
  • Who is in charge?
  • Has this been contained?
  • Are victims being helped?
  • What can we expect?
  • What should we do?
  • Why did this happen?
  • Did you have forewarning?

25
The Donts!
  • Dont use I
  • Dont speculate
  • Dont make promises you cant keep
  • Dont use jargon, technical terms, acronyms
  • Dont use negative words and phrases
  • Dont blame others
  • Dont discuss costs
  • Dont make jokes
  • Dont repeat negative allegations
  • Dont become defensive

26
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27
Give People Things to Do
  • Public must be educated before an incident about
    things to do something on paper, Internet, etc.
  • -Citizen Responder
  • This prevents potential for panic
  • Preparation is the key
  • Pre-incident education - PI campaign
  • Post-incident educationJoint Information Center,
    etc.

28
Contact Information
  • John J. Lanza, MD, PhD, MPH, FAAP
  • Florida Department of Health
  • Escambia County Health Department
  • 850.595.6557
  • john_lanza_at_doh.state.fl.us
  • www.EscambiaHealth.com
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