Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nearly Half of U.S. States Fail on Emergency Plan Communication

27.10.2008
Seven years after Sept. 11, and in the wake of many major natural disasters such as forest fires, hurricanes and flooding, nearly half of U.S. states either have no state-level emergency plan or do not provide it readily to the public, reveals a new study by George Mason University Communication Professor Carl Botan.

Despite federal laws that require a state emergency operations plan (EOP) as a prerequisite to some federal funding, 22 states were unable to provide Botan with an EOP, withheld the plan on security grounds or made it difficult for even trained researchers to gain access.

Residents of these states, Botan says, may question their state's preparedness because they are unable to find out how the highest authorities in their state coordinate responses to major disasters or how to have a say in those plans.

"While most Americans will have access to some important state-level information during emergencies, many may not. When minutes may make the difference between life and death in an emergency situation, the population should not have to waste precious time looking for answers or who to turn to," says Botan.

The study, "Using Sense-Making and Co-orientation to Rank Strategic Public Communication in State Emergency Operations Plans," graded and ranked the state emergency operations plans of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia on their communication components.

Botan analyzed the accessible state EOPs for three criteria: if the plans had a two-way communication component, if they addressed the communication needs of vulnerable populations and if they treated public communication as important enough to specifically address it in the plan.

He found that the 29 jurisdictions that do have plans available make provisions for public communication-including news releases and public broadcasts, but only 16 of them make explicit or implicit provisions for two-way public communication such as community forums and focus groups. Botan feels that two-way public communication is essential in the plans, for that will allow the state to understand what its residents feel they need in emergency situations.

Of the 29 plans obtained, only two-Washington, D.C. [which is treated as a state-level entity for this purpose] and New Mexico-received a perfect score of eight for communication.

In addition, while 16 states mentioned vulnerable publics, only 13 of these discussed specific communication strategies for these vulnerable publics in their plans. For example, California mentions specific strategies such as dispatching special teams targeting vulnerable populations like the aged and the disabled, while Arizona simply mentions that emergency managers must pay attention to "special needs" people like residents of nursing homes and the hearing impaired, but does not outline specific strategies to communicate with them.

As of 1988, all states are required under the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to have a written EOP in order to qualify for some federal funding. "Billions of tax dollars have been spent on homeland security in the last half-decade," Botan says. "It's very important that these plans are available to the public. Otherwise residents can't be confident their needs have been thought of, and aren't sure who they can count on."

The study, co-authored by George Mason University alumni Paul Penchalapadu, is to be presented at the National Communication Association annual conference in San Diego on Saturday, Nov. 22. Major results are summarized in Table 1, attached. For a full copy of the study contact Tara Laskowski, Public Relations Manager, George Mason University at 703-993-8815 or tlaskows@gmu.edu.

About George Mason University

Named the #1 national university to watch by U.S. News & World Report, George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in the heart of Northern Virginia's technology corridor near Washington, D.C., Mason prepares its students to succeed in the work force and meet the needs of the region and the world.

With strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and information technology, dance, organizational psychology and health care, Mason students are routinely recognized with national and international scholarships. Mason professors conduct groundbreaking research in areas such as cancer, climate change, information technology and the biosciences, and Mason's Center for the Arts brings world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage.

Tara Laskowski | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://eagle.gmu.edu/newsroom/719/
http://www.gmu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>