During difficult times, communities especially need support. Various catastrophes, disasters, and crises leave people deprived of the basic needs (Pir, 2009). However, the tragic experience of earthquakes, hurricanes, and terrorist attacks has led to the development of different methods to respond to such issues. There are many aspects that have to be addressed in case of a crisis, but one of the most significant is communication. The main goal of this paper is to assess alternative systems for communication and describe vulnerable populations and strategies for reaching and communicating with them during a crisis.
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A crisis communication plan should be flexible in its application. There are several alternative systems for communication that might be used during a crisis. Text-and traditional pagers, e-mail, Internet and intranet systems might serve as an effective alternative to traditional communication technologies (Massey & Larsen, 2006). Also, one of the most effective devices in such cases is radio. It might be a short-wave radio or two-way radio. Another important method involves the use of public devices: electronic signs on billboards and monitors in public places such as schools, restaurants, stores and so forth. Voice systems that are used for announcements might be very useful as well. Finally, satellite communication systems become more and more relevant nowadays. However, it is necessary to implement different strategies for communication. Such activities as news conferences, media interviews, news releases might successfully manage a crisis.
All the mentioned above systems can be very useful. However, some of them are more effective. Radio that works on batteries is an autonomous device that transmits messages that can be received by means of special equipment. It is a long-distance communication system, thus it might be indispensable in case of serious damage to infrastructure. Another very important method is satellites that also work autonomically (William, 2009). If during a crisis landlines and power are down, satellites continue working. Therefore, interaction among rescue teams and population can be successfully implemented. There are two types of satellite communication. The first type is Geostationary Satellite Systems. They provide a wide range of communication services: video, sound, and broadband data. These devices usually belong to governments, thus they might be used in case of emergency. The second type is Low Earth Orbit Satellites that can provide voice and data at a low speed.
There are several most vulnerable populations that need to be reached during a crisis. Such populations include children, elderly people, and individuals with different types of disabilities (Langer, 2004). People who have sensory, mobility, or cognitive impairments should receive particular attention. Hence, it is important to design different strategies aimed at assisting such populations during a crisis. The most effective strategy is the preparation for emergency (Saunders, 2007). Services that will provide such people with necessities should be established in advance. Telephone and online crisis counseling is another effective approach (James & Gilliland, 2012). Its therapeutic effectiveness has been proved as this measure provides vulnerable populations with a support system.
The next important measure is psychological assessment to understand post-traumatic symptomology (Balaban, 2006). It is especially relevant for children and adolescents. In case of crisis, they usually experience intense anxiety and stress (Sorensen, 1989). Another important aspect is the availability of affordable housing. Strategies aimed at resolving this problem engage different non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs). During a crisis, low-income populations might require accommodation, and NGOs and CBOs can offer necessary assistance (Bolin & Stanford 1998). However, to address all these issues simultaneously, it is necessary to develop a vulnerable populations model that can provide methods to a comprehensive evaluation of the outcomes of a crisis and ensure effective cooperation among all the involved bodies.
In conclusion, there are different methods to communicate with people during disasters and catastrophes. Modern technologies provide various options that are successfully applied throughout the world. Also, there are many strategies that are designed to assist vulnerable populations. They often require the participation of NGOs and CBOs. However, a specially designed model enhances collaboration between them and people in need.
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William, C. A. (2009). Crisis Management in the New Strategy Landscape. London, England: Sage Publications.