Last week we released the results of a survey on the use of social media in emergencies. The survey showed that 63% of Canadians think emergency services such as fire and police should be prepared to respond to a call for help posted on a social media site.The results prompted a lot of discussion on the role emergency responders and social media should play in an emergency or disaster.
Sergeant Tim Burrows of the Toronto Police and one of our Digital Volunteers weighed in on the discussion about emergency responders monitoring social media for calls for help by stressing the importance of calling 9-1-1 in an emergency. While social media provides a great way of disseminating information during an emergency, Tim points out that the accounts aren’t currently being monitored to support online reporting of emergencies.
On their site, XConnectTO also looked at the opportunities for using social media for emergency medical care. “Social media channels of communication for emergency medical services could be incredibly efficient at dealing with large volumes of inquiry, as often there is a surge in demand for information as a result of a single occurrence…while still providing the flexibility to respond on an individual basis”.
If there is one thing the Canadian Red Cross survey shows, it is the demand for information regarding emergencies on social channels as well as the need for emergency responders to address current beliefs surrounding social media and emergency response.
Crisis communications blogger, Patrice Cloutier, took to his own blog to address the issue of emergency responders on social media. In his article, Patrice argues that emergency managers must catch up with society and find a way to use social media in emergency response. And while many may side with Patrice, we continue to urge Canadians to dial 9-1-1 in an emergency! Please do not use social media as a substitute for reporting emergencies.
The survey has certainly created a lot of discussion around what we expect of social media and the emergency responders who use it!