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Crisis Risk Communication (Aka: How not to incite angry mobs.)


Be First

Prevent the spread of disinformation and rumors. Put out a message quickly regard- ing what has happened, what might be next, and what can be done. People tend to believe the first message they hear—make sure it’s not a falsehood!


Be Right

If you do not know the answer to a question—say so. There is no faster way to lose trust and credibility than being wrong. Include what is known, what is not known, and what is being done to fill in the gaps.


Be Credible

Honesty should not be compromised. Say what has happened and what needs to be done. Do not sugarcoat what is going on. Do not make promis- es you may not be able to keep.


Express Empathy

Sympathy: I am so sorry that this happened to you!

Empathy: I can understand why you feel that way; this is a scary situation.

Sympathy: Our thoughts and prayers go out to you.

Empathy: I understand the priority right now is to keep your family safe, and we are doing all we can to make sure of that.


Promote Action

When people do things, it restores a sense of control and reduces anxiety. They can believe they are working towards the end of the disaster and that progress is not being made. Inac- tivity brings about powerlessness.


Show Respect

This is important when people feel vulnerable since it can restore a sense of worth and control. Also builds rap- port. Not showing respect, especially to community leaders, is a quick way to lose credibility, which is dangerous if people turn to figures who spout misinformation.

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Norovirus! Also known as the “Winter Vomiting Virus” according to the CDC, although this is the first time I’ve heard it called that. It is incredi- bly infectious and has already shut down the Greater Albany Public Schools due to an outbreak.

The symptoms of norovirus are well-known, obvious, and unfortunately effective at spreading itself—to put it bluntly, norovirus causes a truly debilitating amount of spontaneous vomiting and diarrhea. Possibly simultaneously. Fortunately, symptoms typically only last for a day or two, and typically the only problematic element of the virus (aside from the ... mess) is the risk of dehydration. So rest and drink water! Prefer- ably close to a toilet.

Humans are the only known reservoirs of the disease, and they can begin shedding the illness a few hours before symptoms begin and up to two weeks after symptoms end. The disease typically spreads via the fecal-oral route, which leads to the common counter of...

Handwashing! Yes!

This week is Handwashing Week! Featuring hot running water! Soap! And hand sanitizer! In a state riddled with norovirus outbreaks! Wash your hands today, frequently! And if you ever feel like it is a waste of time, just remember the phrase “fecal-oral route” and you should find your motivation.

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Good news, everyone! It has been a sufficient span of time so I can now offer Wa- ter and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) training to non-members of Coos County MRC. The training will, of course, still be open to members and I would be delighted to have you, but this time I will be sending out invitations to other counties as well. Not their MRCs, necessarily, since we are the only MRC for some distance, but to their CERTs and other volunteer organizations that might have an interest in dis- aster sanitation.

The training may also be worth revisiting if you have previously done WASH. We are now encompassing other elements of WASH aside from the mere act of waste disposal. The primary purpose of WASH is to interrupt the fecal-oral route, which can take other forms aside from depositing waste in buckets. Handwashing and water purification are also key elements of WASH which we will be addressing for the first time in this training. Phillip Nel was kind enough to take the time out of his busy grant-writing schedule to submit a grant for a handwashing station and a UV light, and we have a water purifier from a brand that Russ Johnston swears by.

I have reserved a room in the CHEC building for several dates from January 2020 onwards. The date will be decided once I send out emails to the nearby counties and gauge their interest and availability. I will of course keep the Coos County MRC apprised of the situation.

At present, the reservations are for January 9, February 13, March 19, and April 16. If you are interested in attending, please let me know which date would work best for you so I can take it into account. Thank you!


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