L. Darryl ARMSTRONG and Associates LLC is privileged to be associated with Nusura, Inc., a specialized emergency management firm that creates technological innovations like SimulationDeck and Activation Analytics and backs them with nationally recognized subject matter experts in crisis management planning, training and exercises. The Nusura team includes the industry’s top tech development team and the most experienced crisis communications practitioners in the nation. The Nusura team also has extensive transportation expertise and are the nation’s leading firm on planning for people with access and functional needs.
We invite you to visit the Nusura, Inc website to see the latest in technologically advanced crisis and emergency planning platforms to assist in your training and exercises.
We would be pleased to arrange a no cost demonstration for your organization. Call me personally at 270.619.3803 or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Detective Frank Hunt has a distinguished 30-year career with the 110th precinct in New York City. He has seen most all of it when it comes to crime and crime scenes. And although he has been honored for numerous contributions that he has made to the department, perhaps he is best known for being an experienced and highly successful negotiator.
I had the privilege a few years ago to speak at the Coldwell Bankers Real Estate annual awards breakfast in Owensboro and my topic was, if you choose, how you too can learn to be a better negotiator during times of a crisis or not. After all sales personnel all need to understand the art and science of negotiations to be as successful as possible.
I first observed the power of a good negotiator when I watched my grandfather trade mules back in the 1950s. By the 1970s, I was negotiating my way through a government agency and then for the past 25 years I have taught these skills to managers, labor representatives, sales, law enforcement and military personnel.
Frank Hunt and I agree on many points that we have learned in our 40 plus-year careers.
To be a good negotiator, you must get and keep “rapport” with the other person. Rapport is a French word that means you have developed a relationship of mutual trust or, like-mindedness, fellowship, comradeship, camaraderie, sympathy.
Hunt says that under all circumstances you must be “relentless” in trying to develop rapport. The development of rapport is not always easy and yet even when we get it we also can lose it fairly quickly. We know we have rapport when the “feeling” of the moment is “right”. We lose rapport when we are not paying attention to what we are doing to keep the other party engaged.
Effective negotiators “get up close and personal” with the other party, Hunt says. And I would add that it is always the “one-on-one” that makes the most successful relationships during negotiations.
As a hostage negotiator Hunt says, you must “deal with the situations as they happen” and show the other person involved that you too are a “real person” that cares about the outcome of the experience.
My own experience has demonstrated over the years that if you negotiate for purely selfish reasons and don’t find a mutually successful outcome such discussions usually fail on all fronts. During a crisis, I can assure you that the other party involved can quickly distinguish a skilled manipulator over an experienced negotiator.
“You also must place your ego to the side,” Hunt admonishes. And experience has shown both of us that when you can’t do that you simply can’t be effective.
“I believe that to be most effective you must be able to show the other party that you are willing to cross the line with them,” Hunt notes.
Roger Dawson, author of the The Secrets of Power Negotiators, points out that irrespective of how much you study or what you do that the best teacher is “experience”.
Of course, that would not be the case with hostage negotiations yet most of us have tried now and then to develop our skills by actually practicing them. Think about it. Ever bought a car and made a different offer than the “asking price”? You opened the door for negotiations but did you walk through it?
Some basic tips to follow if you decide to engage in negotiations:
- Go into the situation thinking and acting positive
- Be aware that if you think negative, you will come out with a negative outcome
- Remind the other party that they are not alone – it is you and them working together for a mutually satisfactory outcome
- Propose often by using language such as “Why don’t we try this …”
- Remind the other party frequently “We will work this out”
- Remember negotiations require time – time is on your side
- Create a ‘win’ of some kind for both sides
- Deal with the moment and get personal when you can
- Pull them out of the situation psychologically not physically
- Keep the playing field level whenever possible
- Let the other person tell you how to best deal with their complaint or issue
- Keep asking for their advice and help
- Help the other person to make decision along with you
- Be a good listener and repeat now and then exact words back so the other party feels honored by your listening skills
- Be sensitive to all situations – what might not be important to you may be to the other party
- Project and instill confidence in your discussion
Finally, with all due respect some people simply can’t be good negotiators. That is a fact of life. Those people should proceed to develop other skills they may possess.
And remember, as Hunt is apt to share, “If you only have a hammer in your tool box then every problem has to be a nail.”
Develop as many of your negotiating skills and talents as possible and use them to develop a wealth of experience to be successful. Finally, the time to develop and practice these skills is not during the times of a crisis. Plan, prepare and train in advance to survive.
38 Important Questions to Answer Before You Invest: Body cameras are just part of a complex audio and video documentation puzzle
(The Chicago dashcam video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Zz03rvyhIk) of the shooting of a 17-year old released last evening 11.24.15 raises many of the questions that must be answered prior to purchasing body or in-car video/audio cameras.)
Let’s face it in law enforcement these days whether it is on campus or in the city, county and state LE groups the issue of outfitting officers with body cameras has become a national focus with many LE organizations rushing to get the grants and funding to purchase equipment. One in three police departments in the U.S. are using body cameras for at least some of their officers, according to a 2013 study conducted by the US Department of Justice.
President Barack Hussein Obama has proposed a three-year, $75 million investment that could help purchase 50,000 body-worn cameras for law enforcement nation-wide. The goal is that these cameras will increase accountability for the police and civilians.
However, there are questions and issues to consider before making decisions on audio and video equipment that LE personnel would be wise to answer and resolve in advance of making such significant investment.
Let’s consider how will the purchase of a body camera lead to an all-inclusive system of audio and video recording?
As a crisis communications professional, when debriefing and investigating clients’ situations and how well they handled their crisis, I want to understand the complete context in which an action or reaction to a situation has occurred. Video obtained from body cameras is only one piece of a complex puzzle and only provides a glimpse into the overall event.
If we are to successfully either prevent or manage an organizational crisis, then we must understand from outset to completion how the incident came to be and how it evolved so that a time-line can be generated to see how and why decisions were made during the incident. Simply, this means that you need the audio 911 recording from the minute the incident starts at dispatch and the entire audio and video dialogue between dispatch, command and patrol until the incident is resolved.
I believe that simply reviewing video of an incident as it evolves or erupts even with audio from the scene can be presumptive without overall context and can lead to less than accurate interpretations by command, the media and the public.
Simply, when doing crisis investigations and reconstructions without pre and post context you are severely handicapped in determining how and why certain decisions to act or react were made.
In other words, body cameras are just another tool in the documentary arsenal. When selecting audio and video equipment consider these factors and answer these questions in advance of any purchase:
- Does your body or in-car camera have as good an audio recording capability as it does a video capability?
- Does the video and audio recording begin immediately or is there a delay?
- Does your 911 system have a dedicated audio recording system that has the capability of backing up files for quick future reference, ease of use and rapid association with the video capture?
- Is the quality of the audio recording systems for incoming 911 calls and your body cameras the best available?
- What is the quality of a night recording on the camera?
- How easy is the body cam system you are considering for an officer to use?
- Does it have an on and off switch or is there the capability for an immediate on using other activation parameters?
- How much work will be required of an officer to download videos from the camera, label them and store them in a secure database or video management system? How often will they be required to do so? How easy is the download process to learn and use?
- How durable are the audio/video hardware systems for the weather conditions under which they must operate in your community?
- Have you vetted the durability and reliability of the equipment through other LE departments that have experience with them?
- Have you investigated the cost of operation/maintenance based on other LE departmental experiences? What are the annual costs of repairs and replacements for departments of a similar size?
- Is the system comfortable to wear and reasonably unobtrusive?
- Where will your officers wear these cameras i.e. chest, shoulders, on helmets or eyewear? Different mounting positions come with different challenges. A chest-mounted camera view could be blocked by an officer’s arms when in a shooting stance. A shoulder-mounted camera will not follow the officer’s line of site when peering around a corner with the officer’s back against a wall.
- Do you and your officer understand and are you willing to accept that wherever you place the camera it still won’t capture 100% of the actions, which is why audio capability is equally important.
- What is the length of the video and audio that can be captured on the camera?
- Does the camera only support a proprietary rather than a standards-based video format?
- Is the video format the same as current cell phones in the market place? Using such a format will help eliminate complicated video analysis issues later on because of the need to convert the footage to a standard format, which can also impact the actual video quality.
- Does the camera provide date and time visuals and other possible environmental conditions?
- From the moment of capture to storage does the camera encrypt the data so that it cannot be altered?
- Can the camera’s audio and video be remotely accessed by command, viewed real-time and recorded at command central?
- What does the system you are considering cost in terms of hardware compared to other systems?
- What “unusual” and “unexpected” hardware issues have other departments had with the system?
- What will be the cost of training, technical support, video storage, software to analyze and manage the audio and video evidence?
- Does your department have Informational Technical (IT) support, or will training of each officer be required using the vendor’s training resources? Does the vendor provide a “train-the-trainer” program?
- Can the vendor provide IT support 24/7/365 and what will it cost annually? What is their turn-around time on a call for immediate assistance? Are they willing to come to you on immediate notice?
- What policies and guidelines need to be developed to ensure transparency and accountability?
- When can an officer record or not record an interaction?
- How long will you keep the video evidence?
- Do you have offsite backup (cloud) storage for long-term evidence needs?
- How will the data be shared externally?
- Do you know and understand the requirements in your state to consider before releasing footage to the media or public?
- What research and considerations have you made and integrated into your policies concerning privacy of the videos, as it relates to the public?
- Have these policies been vetted by your legal/public affairs team?
- Is it necessary in your state for you to redact (or visually blur) video frames of innocent bystanders, minors or witnesses?
- Do you need to purchase and have staff trained on how to do manual frame-by-frame redaction/blurring?
- Do you have the in-house resources and/or do you need a consultant as part of your review team to make sure the hardware fits your community’s specific needs?
- Will the vendor agree to allow you to run a minimum test and trial of the equipment for 30-90 days or longer with larger purchases of cameras?
- Have you investigated available grants at the state and federal level?
It will be necessary for your department to plan and conduct a “test-trial” of the hardware using table-top and field exercises to assess the audio/video quality of the equipment and to “test” your policies, procedures and communications and crisis plans under different environmental and work conditions. These exercises should be inclusive from the moment of 911 dispatch to resolution of the event.
Finally, it is essential that you collaborate with your public affairs officer and your crisis communications manager to develop, implement and test an inclusive and comprehensive communications plan to engage the media and public during your trial.
This exercise should include not only the traditional media (newspapers, radio and television); it also should include a well-defined and executable social media plan that at a minimum includes Facebook and Twitter. The use of exercise platforms such as offered by Nusura (www.nusura.com) can be helpful at this phase.
Remember the general public is divided between those that are concerned about privacy implications of body cameras and those that demand their use by police departments to increase accountability. Therefore, it is critically important that you demonstrate transparency and openness in all communications associated with the purchase and use of your body cameras and let the public and media know how you will address any issues that may develop from their use.
If you have questions or need assistance in developing a crisis communications plan please visit www.ldarrylarmstrong.com for free resource materials.
We are available to assist 24/7/365 by calling 1.888.340.2006.
Your feedback and comments are appreciated.
L. Darryl Armstrong PhD
L. Darryl ARMSTRONG and Associates
Behavioral Public Relations LLC
Finding public servants of the caliber of Paul is difficult in our society. Paul was one of the rare breed that understood the importance of opening and maintaining dialogue on all issues whether they were controversial or not, the importance of ‘informed consent,’ and the art of consensus-building, if not compromise.
We have had the privilege of knowing Paul for most of two decades, and even though politically we are often worlds apart, I have great respect and admiration for this Vanderbilt-educated renaissance of a fellow.
There are those who would say Paul is progressive and liberal; just as there are those who would say I am conservative and a libertarian. I have never much cared for labels rather I prefer Paul’s approach to being a public servant. He is a gentleman who is willing to have an open, honest and spirited conversation about any subject and that my friends can lead to better decision-making on a diversity of issues.
Being a public figure especially one that is in an elected office in any community is not an enviable position. I know that personally because I was a public servant at the executive federal level for almost 20-years. As Paul, and others find out you no longer have much of a private life once you engage in public service; if you have the pathological need to be liked by everyone you also have no business being in public service.
Much like Paul, I set about trying to help government and its elected and employed officials better understand different constituent viewpoints. I sought and developed processes to gather as much data and information as possible so that we could make better decisions especially on those issues that directly affected the people that we served.
I understood and yet became very frustrated with the many different internal and external political agendas and that eventually wore me down and I voluntarily left for the private sector where I have been now almost 22-years.
However, then and now as a practicing informed-consent professional I went about as did Paul the often arduous task of opening and sustaining dialogue, building coalitions and seeking to understand all sides of an issue before presenting alternative solutions and certainly before making a decision.
I found however even after such well-meaning efforts that many decisions were not made in the best interest of the community rather decisions were made as to what was in the best interest of the agency, or the ranking politicos at the time.
Paul brought to the Tybee city council an even-tempered, diplomatic and inquiring approach to consideration of issues when at times others simply tested the limits of patience. There is nothing new or even unique about follies in locally elected bodies, it is what it is and it always shall be. All politics are local, Tip O’Neil reminded us and so that is the way life is whether at Tybee Island or the heart of New York City.
What was refreshing about Paul was to see more reasoned, deliberate, ethical and thoughtful approaches to the workings of a local government and for that all taxpayers on Tybee Island can be thankful.
I believe Paul has much to be proud of in the service he provided during his tenure and the model of reasoned approach that he chose to follow is one that the current city council would be wise to adopt.
I have come to believe in my maturity that it is people like Paul that help us all see different visions and paths to solutions to the often controversial and thorny problems we face. I came to understand that even when Paul’s opinions varied greatly from my own, that he actively listened and integrated divergent viewpoints into his thinking and that is rare in the partisan world in which we live.
Whatever Paul does next he will do it with energy, compassion, and passion and he will continue to be a contributor to the wacky little island.
Like many of us who have been in the arena many times before, it is best that we tried to advance thinking and action rather than to sit idly on the sidelines. So, I advise my “brother of another mother” to not take the political winds of fortune personally.
Sometimes, as my partner has said, it seems the society in which we live and work is conspiring against good-willed people and their well-intentioned ways and that even those who work on our behalf sometimes don’t seem to do us the favor they intend.
Perhaps, more so than anyone Mark Twain sums up Paul Wolff when he wrote, “An honest man in politics shines more there than he would elsewhere.”
Semper fi brother, DrD
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would do well to understand the importance of “actively listening” to “We the people …” Openness, transparency, actively listening and continual feedback are critical to the success of any public engagement process.
Let’s hope and pray that you never have a disaster however the chances increase daily.
Many of you reading this have most likely followed the looting and rioting that occurred following the Grand Jury’s decisions in Ferguson, Mo and New York City. The actions of the rioters and looters on small businesses was deplorable and I sincerely hope, yet doubt, that those responsible for breaking into stores and looting will be arrested and prosecuted. Sadly, many of those businesses had not appropriately prepared for such an incident.
As a small business owner there are several things you should do in advance to protect yourself, your employees and your business during a disaster.
First, you must develop a disaster preparedness plan.
This planning is as essential as developing a business plan. Having a disaster plan in place will make the difference between being shut down for a few days, and losing your livelihood forever. The plan should be thoughtfully designed to cover all possible contingencies. You may never face a riot however the chances of an earthquake, fire, flood, tornado or even a robbery in western Kentucky is significant.
Second, get your insurances in order.
We recommend that you have a personal and ongoing relationship with your insurance agent. Choose one who understands the needs of your business and meet with him/her annually to assess and reassess your needs.
If you are in a store-front business such as a convenience store you will need business-interruption insurance. This is the type of insurance that replaces income lost when a business suffers downtime due to a covered peril, which means that you must understand fully what perils are covered.
Many insurance companies no longer cover such things as terrorist, rioting and looting events. Know and understand fully what you are paying for and be a good business person by shopping around for the right agent and a company that will meet your needs.
Here is what I mean by this – your agent is the person you will depend upon to facilitate and handle claims and settlements for you. This person’s behavioral, management and personality styles should at least be complementary to your own. However, if you tend to be a tentative person who will not fight for your rights, you may wish to ensure that you have an insurance agent who will and is truly on your side.
A few years ago, we actually changed our insurance agent even though the company we had insurance with at the time charged a lesser premium. Why? Frankly, this insurance agent would not promptly return our telephone calls, answer our questions with clarity or handle our issues and reimbursements quickly and fairly.
If this is your agent – he/she needs training in customer service and you are not paying him/her to be less than customer focused. Find an agent that meets your expectations and that you are comfortable with while understanding that you as a customer is of paramount importance to him/her.
Third, remember that normal hazard insurance doesn’t cover floods.
It is vitally important that you make sure you have designated flood insurance. Also, ensure that you fully understand what your insurance covers and what is not covered.
Fourth, as the business owner, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I prepared to relocate temporarily? Where might we do this?
- What would happen if my suppliers were shut down due to an emergency or disaster?
- Do you employees know what to do in case of an emergency or a disaster?
For example, employees should know where all the emergency exits are located in your building. A safety coordinator should be appointed and trained. This is the person who will take responsibility for making sure that all the fire extinguishers, security systems and close-circuit television cameras work and that all emergency exits are operational.
This person will plan and conduct safety and fire drills and develop evacuation and business recovery plans. Obviously in many small businesses this will be you as the owner!
Fifth, backup and store vital business records offsite.
Information stored on paper and computer, should be copied and saved on a backup hard drive at an offsite location at least 50 miles away from the main business site, advises the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
This is where we would disagree with FEMA. We recommend using “cloud” computer services to back up your information so they can be accessible from anywhere at any time. Setup and use a password system and ensure that you and at least two other trusted employees have access to that password.
Sixth, develop a simple, easy to follow “business recovery communications” plan.
Assign key employees as facilitators who during a disaster will contact suppliers, creditors, other employees, customers, and utility companies to get the word out that the business is still viable and is in need of assistance in the recovery.
Get yourself trained and train at least one preferably two other persons to be a media spokesperson to keep the public informed of your rebuilding efforts, if necessary.
Finally, recognize and understand that the more strategic planning you do on the front-end the better. The last thing you need to be doing is planning for a disaster when it is underway or impending.
Our mantra about preparing and strategically planning for a disaster has remained the same the past 40-years: “Always plan for the worst, while praying for the best.”
Land Between The Lakes
To Those Interested:
Sadly, it is once again time to have our elected officials at the local, state and federal level step to the plate and stop the US Forest Service at Land Between The Lakes from making a mockery of the commitments made to the former residents, users, visitors and taxpayers.
The most recent petition drive to stop the clear-cutting and burning at this 170,000 national outdoor recreation, education and resource management area is the latest eruption in the ongoing battle to get a federal agency back in line to serve its constituency.
Everyone should understand that the USFS actions directly impacts the local tourism economy of western Kentucky and ultimately the Commonwealth’ s economy, so I am sure the Governor and Kentucky State legislators are already in touch with the locally elected officials to stop these actions. If not, now is the time for them to step up and speak out.
I commend the work of Lyon Judge Wade White and Trigg County Judge Hollis White, and Professor David Nickell and others who have committed to engaging in openness and transparency to inform and educate those with an interest in LBL – this is something that too many local, state and federal governments only say they will do.
They are effectively using social and traditional media to push their opposition on the USFS actions out to the people that count – the former residents, the taxpayers, the users and the visitors to this national treasure. They must keep up the openness and transparency and continue to inform, educate and collaborate with those they serve and insist that the federal managers come to the table to resolve this crisis that the USFS created.
Any well-read or TV-versed person knows that the Obama administration has demonstrated they are “big on hat, short on cattle” when it comes to openness and transparency and, therefore, it seems the US Forest Service can be the same. Well, USFS you are wrong! You have been called out.
I am not surprised that Land Between The Lakes talking head Jan Bush says U.S. Forestry officials don’t plan to attend the February 26th public meeting, but they look forward to the dialogue that follows. I have to ask, how will you know what that dialogue is Ms. Bush if you don’t attend?
Knowing how the federal government works, after spending almost two decades trying to make it an open and transparent government that sought out public opinion and dialogue before making decisions that impacted its customers, all I can say is “I am sure the USFS management and employees are waiting with baited breathe over at LBL to hear the outcome of this meeting.”
According to local media sources, Wade White of Lyon County and Hollis Alexander of Trigg County are encouraging community members to voice concerns at a public meeting they’re planning for February 26th in Grand Rivers. White says logging and burning ongoing in the northern portion of LBL makes the landscape look devastated.
“If we truly are a recreational area like what was promised back in the 60s, to draw in people so it helps our economies all around, that’s not happening,” said White. “That’s not going to happen if it becomes a tree farm.”
White has been publicly critical of logging and burning operations in LBL both on his and Lyon County’s Facebook page. He’s raising funds to bolster his efforts with a media campaign, says the tax funded National Public Radio website WKMS at Murray State University.
Judge White I strongly urge you to sit down with the all the tourism commissions in the area and voice your concern. Kentucky Western Waterlands, Inc. should be speaking up on behalf of the regional tourism businesses.
Also, Judge White and Alexander please contact the Southeast Outdoor Press Association (http://seopa.org); The Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers Association (http://aglowinfo.org); The National Outdoor Writers Association (http://owaa.org); the Tennessee and Kentucky Press associations and outdoor writer association and such imminent and respected outdoor writers as Wade Bourne (http://www.wadebourneoutdoors.com/ ) in Clarksville, Tenn.; Steve Vantress in Paducah, and Bill Evans, Vice President of Operations and News at WPSD-TV and let them know of this egregious issue and the opposition and give them interviews, fact sheets, photographs and video. Take this story to the world and I assure you these people will respond.
We support Judge White and Judge Alexander; however, just as we saw with the US Corps of Engineers attempts to recently ram down a new policy about fishing below Barkley Dam without public input and consideration these judges will have to have the total support of Congressman Whitfield and Senators McConnell and Paul to stop this outrageous activity. Now, is the time to insist that the state and federal representatives publicly speak up and demonstrate their support of your viewpoints.
This time federal legislation must be designed to also include a provision that stops such excessive forestry practices and ensures that all roads to all cemeteries in LBL will be maintained and remain open at all times. The legislation should focus any agency that runs this project on operation and maintenance of existing facilities, confine them to the facilities they currently have with no more commercialization expansion and insist that they are at all times engaged with the public seeking input, comment and collaborative decision-making.
Make no mistake to stop this action will require federal legislation, supported by the state of Kentucky and Tennessee and the local and state elected officials.
As concerned citizens and taxpayers, call and write your federally elected officials, your Governor and state legislators and insist they attend this meeting. Ask them the federally elected representatives to intervene legislatively and insist while they are at it that they insist the USFS demonstrate enough courage to come to these meetings and hear the public’s views, issues, concerns and dialogue.
It is time that government at all levels actively seek out and engage those who pay their salaries and fund their budgets — the taxpayers. In fact, that time is long overdue!
Finally, drive over to LBL and see this situation for yourselves. Call Judge White and Alexander and talk to them and express your opinions, attend this meeting on February 26th in Grand Rivers; call WPSD-TV, the Paducah Sun and your local newspapers and insist they attend.
Use your own personal social media sites to get your messages and opinions out there, whatever they might be and insist that the USFS become open and transparent.
Finally, Judge White and Alexander file Freedom of Information Acts requesting all documents dealing with this and all management issues of concern and if it is found that someone sitting in the southwestern United States wrote this management plan reveal that fact to the public.
Go to these sites to learn more and attend these meetings to voice your opinions, your outrage and or your concern:
Regrettably, the Ebola crisis will continue to be a top of the page story for the next several months. The conflicting messages given by the medical profession and the media have made sure of this. The medical profession has created this crisis by providing experts who are not necessarily good communicators to communicate about the disease and the infected patients. Although doctors may be experts at medical issues, they are not necessarily good communicators with the media and the public at large.
Doctors are usually well experienced at diagnosing and treating disease. However, few are experienced in talking to the media and the public. As a result, while they don’t plan to create a crisis, they often do just that. This often occurs when there has not been adequate time taken to create key messages, trained on those messages and ensure that everyone is on message.
For example, the medical profession and the President often contradict each other.
Obama says: “You Can’t Get Ebola Sitting Next to Someone on a Bus”.
CDC announces: “Avoid Public Transportation”. (cnsnews.com)
In his video to residents of West African countries experiencing Ebola outbreaks, President Obama dispensed advice on how to avoid the disease, “You cannot get it (Ebola) through casual contact like sitting next to someone on a bus”.
At the same time, Dr. Thomas Frieden, director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is advising Americans who travel to the Ebola-stricken nations to “avoid public transportation”.
Listeners must ask themselves which is the correct message? As this story has evolved, it is too reminiscent of the old Abbott-Costello routine of “Who’s on first”?
To avoid the crisis mentality, media training and practice is required for doctors (and all professionals who are going to speak to the media) so that they know how to respond when called upon to answer questions at a media briefing. Every doctor or designated spokesperson should be trained to follow the same rules. Some doctors and now even the President have stepped outside the “agreed to” principles of conduct during this crisis, and they and their employers and their audiences have suffered the consequences.
Most of us are familiar with the acronym HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and the rules that govern patient privacy. And we are familiar with the requirements to read and sign a form that clearly articulates what information can and can’t be released by your doctor. These Federal rules essentially keep a doctor or an employer of the health care facility from talking about a patient or an issue.
But when the issue is Ebola, E-coli or the Avian Flu, the media demands details, because of HIPAA, doctors often cannot provide these details. Doctors who are media trained and practiced can assist in preventing a crisis by sharing a carefully crafted answer with the media…an answer that explains the situation and the parameters around the answer.
The blog post at Gerard Braud Communications suggests that a media trained doctor can artfully reply, when asked about a patient’s condition during an outbreak of the Ebola virus, “Please understand that due to Federal law – the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – HIPAA – I am not permitted to discuss specific health conditions about our patient, and neither should the media share such information. I can in general say that a patient with the Ebola virus can be safely quarantined because the virus is not transmitted by breathing in the infection. It can be transmitted only by contact with blood or other body fluids.”
Simply stated, reporters need a sound bite or a good quote. The key for crisis prevention managers is to write sound bite answers in advance for “tough questions” and then assist the doctor in learning how to masterfully deliver them. The “get on message and stay on message” concept is causing great difficulties with the current administration and its appointees.
We insist that our clients develop the “toughest of the tough” questions — those questions, which I call “keep us awake at night” — and that we write simple, easy to understand and communicate answers. The same principle is true when we assist clients with development of crisis plans. Prepare for the worst-case scenario and you will be able to handle anything.
Although doctors are highly trained in the medical field, they need advice, counsel and training before working with reporters. The same is true for any specialized profession be they engineers or bank presidents.
Professionals in any field will be well served to collaborate with their communicators and public relations teams well in advance of engaging in any media conference. In order to be successful in today’s world, professionals should obtain the information and practice their delivery before they perform in the media arena.
Dr. L. Darryl Armstrong is a crisis and emergency communications and management consultant. He can be reached at email@example.com or 1.888.340.2006. Dr. Armstrong is available for speaking engagements and conducts training workshops. Visit his website at www.ldarrylarmstrong.com where you can find even more free resources including the FREE white paper The 11 Steps in Crisis Communications.
Small Businesses, Their Owners, Families and Campus Security Must Prepare for the Worst Case Scenarios – Key Questions
By Dr. L. Darryl Armstrong APR CCMC CAMT
NOTE: The advice and tips presented here can apply to you and your family, as well as your business.
As a small business owner, we rarely think of ourselves as “targets” and yet frankly we are, especially if you are in a retail business and open 24/7, 365 days a year. You are targets for shoplifters, robbery, vandalism, parking lot theft and even active shooters. Any business that has walk in traffic can experience an active shooter, attempted armed robbery or an armed act of domestic violence. Today’s headlines are full of such incidents as:
Jacksboro Convenience Store Robbed; Cashier Shot
- Attempted Robbery Ends – Robber Taken Down by Store Owner
- Husband Shoots Wife at Local Gas Station – Takes Own Life
- Car Jacking Attempt Scares Community – First Ever in County
- Sliders Steal Purse From Car at Gas Station
- Man Killed in Wal-Mart Toy Department
Then, of course, we have horrendous incidents such as the terrible tragedy in the darkened theater in Aurora, Colorado, where a deranged individual kills 12 people and injures 58 others.
We are living in a dangerous world. Suffice it to say that as individuals and small business owners we must acknowledge this and prepare ourselves for any possible scenario.
To ensure that the victims and all other victims of active shooters, irate spouses and deranged individuals didn’t die in vain, I suggest that we can learn lessons from such tragedies and apply them in our businesses and families.
In this column, I want to share with you the self-defense and self-preservation tactics and sage advice provided by former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb, author of The Red Circle that you and I can use to protect our families, our employees and ourselves.
First, simply don’t make yourself an “Easy Target” anywhere you go. When at sporting events, concerts, church, the theater, a restaurant or the movies choose seats that always give you a tactical sight advantage. Choose seats that allow a good and easy vantage point to survey the room at all times and that are near an exit that you can see and get to quickly. This employs an understanding of the need to be hyper-vigilant at all times.
Webb summarizes it this way, “Always stack the odds in your favor.”
Much like Webb, I still back into a parking space and sit with my back to the wall when I am in public. A quick escape from any situation is critical. Always survey the room, the facility and your own business for the quickest way to get out and away from a situation. When in doubt, there is no dishonor in taking flight so that you might fight again another day.
Second, if you end up in an active shooter situation immediately take cover and not just concealment.
Webb explains, “Concealment hides, cover hides AND protects. It’s the difference between hiding behind a movie seat or a concrete wall. Don’t lie there with your eyes closed and get shot. Think and move. In these situations you have to take charge and get in the mindset of self-rescue. You cannot wait for first-responders – it takes too long. A good decision executed quickly is better than a great one never executed. Violence of action, as it is called in the Special Operations community, will often change the odds in your favor.”
Violence of action literally means the unrestricted use of speed, strength, surprise, and especially aggression to achieve total dominance against your enemy. For example, Webb notes that in close quarter combat drills he would draw a gun with someone over 20 feet away running at him.
“In most cases you can be on someone before they can draw and take a shot. I’m not advocating running straight at someone but if you have the tactical advantage say his weapon jams, he needs to re-load, he becomes distracted or the shooter isn’t paying attention then take the shooter down or get the hell out of there. Remember that a moving target is extremely hard to hit, even for the well-trained shooter. Deal with the situation with your eyes wide open,” Webb says.
I should point out here that many small business owners have policies about the employees not carrying weapons or having weapons on the business site. If you don’t have a written policy, now is the time to write and vet it. Work with your attorney or human resources personnel to ensure you are covering the bases you want in the policy and that there is no confusion or the ability to misinterpret the policy.
More than once in the past few years, employees have been dismissed for violation of the employer’s weapons on person/premise policies even though in some cases their actions have saved lives and taken out the bad guy.
As the owner of the business you must plan for these types of situations in advance and construct the policies that you choose. Your employees should be fully aware of your policy before they are employed so they can rationally choose whether they wish to work for you or not.
In the Aurora, Co. shooting, the shooter was severely weighted down with armor and his helmet would have also limited his vision. You can use all this to your advantage to escape or to attack.
Third, Webb advocates and I concur that for personal protection you should always carry a high-powered beam flashlight. He carries one daily and takes it everywhere, as do I.
“It’s become another extension of me and has diffused at least two potentially violent confrontations in a non-lethal way,” Webb says.
Webb explains that in the case of the Colorado shooting that he would have pulled his high lumens pocket flashlight and blinded the shooter. The high powered beam would have taken away the shooter’s vision for 3-4 seconds, which is an eternity and enough time to take flight or fight.
“There’s no shame in surviving and getting you and your loved ones out of harm – especially little ones. Be a hero to your kids and family for surviving, nobody can expect more of you than that. Like we say in Survival Escape Evasion Resistance (SERE) School, “Survive with Honor,” Webb notes.
For most of people, the best bet is to buy a good tactical flashlight, that is at least 200+ lumens (I prefer and recommend 500-Lumens), waterproof, LED, with a 3-volt lithium battery. Use and carry the light with you at all times. It’s the best non-lethal and practical option available. You can take it anywhere – including on an airplane – and if it’s a high lumen model it will blind people even in broad daylight.
“I can’t recommend this purchase enough,” Webb says.
Fourth, Webb recommends if you are serious about self-protection you seek expert training. There are numerous former military and law enforcement instructors that offer self-defense skills to individuals and small groups. It is important to carefully vet the instructors, ask for references and follow those references up with visits or calls to former students to ensure you are getting what you pay for. Also, interview instructors carefully to ensure you are getting the instruction you want and need.
Remember that opening nights of events and large crowds make for easy targets. Webb says that most domestic and foreign terrorists want the biggest bang for their buck.
“Terrorists want Yankee Stadium sold out and not Padre Stadium at 60% capacity. It sucks to live this way sometimes but ask the survivors from Colorado if it’s worth a minor lifestyle change. I say it is, and it’s the main reason I’m watching the Olympics on TV and not attending,” Webb says.
Finally, rehearse emergency scenarios and what you would do before there’s an emergency, the time to practice is not when the event is happening.
Let’s apply this now to your own businesses and families. Ask yourself these questions and ensure you have thought through and practiced your intended responses with your employees and family:
What is the most vulnerable aspect of your office/business/home arrangement? Entrances and exits? Lighting? Security systems?
- Are the exit doors accessible; properly locked from the inside with quick exit capability?
- Are your entrances and exits well lighted and marked?
- If you use video surveillance cameras are they operational and properly placed?
- If you have video monitoring for your front desk or counter are those monitors working and readily seen by the person staffing the counter?
- Do you have a “quick connect” one touch button to alert 911? Is it discreetly
- Do you have working telephone landlines and one dial access to 911?
- Is the cell coverage for your employees and family sufficient to call 911 from any place in the facility or home?
- Have you rehearsed and practiced fire, tornado and active shooter drills?
- Are your employees familiar with the Run, Hide, Fight video – responses to an active shooter scenario?
- Do your employees know what is expected of them in the event of a fire or tornado?
- Do your employees know what is expected of them in the event of an active shooter, armed or unarmed robbery, shoplifting, parking lot robbery or assault?
- Do you have a clear and understood weapon’s policy that you have provided your employees and secured their agreement to preferably in writing?
- Do you have a designated assembly point if you evacuate your home or business?
- When attending public events do you ensure that your family members and friends with you know where the exits are and do you have a designated assembly point if you evacuate for any reason?
The world is a dangerous place these days and whether you are planning for business or family emergencies you must be prepared. Application of the above information to your workplace and family will prepare you for such worst cases scenarios.
There are a number of resources that we highly recommend you take the time to read and watch. They include:
Escape the Wolf by Clint Emerson and Lynn Walters
- On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs, Lt. Col. David Grossman (www.killology.com/sheep_dog.htm)
- Run, Hide, Fight video (www.ldarrylarmstrong.com)