Response Plan Leading Through a Public Safety Crisis
Response Plan Leading Through a Public Safety Crisis
A pandemic scenario resembling the ongoing covid-19 pandemic formed the basis of the crisis leadership analysis and response plan. The pandemic emerged as an unprecedented and unpredictable situation that could precipitate a public safety crisis due to the public health measures and the challenges experienced by people locked down. Therefore, an emergency medical response agency would be responsible for responding to the media need in a urban neighborhood setting. Transformational, cognitive and democratic leadership styles were identified to be the most suitable for a crisis leader. Further, the media relations plan needed to identify the location and frequency of media briefings while assigning a liaison to link the agency and the media.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is a major test for crisis leadership. Like many other natural hazards, the eventual outcomes of the crisis are unknown and unpredictable. This is bound to cause massive panic among people and challenges to the crisis leadership. In this plan, the covid-10 pandemic provides a scenario that would guide the development of a response plan to a public safety crisis, with a detailed media relations plan. The crisis is described and the leadership challenges identified before providing recommendations of the leadership styles and concepts that can be applied by crisis leaders during a public health crisis, such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
Description of Crisis
The Covid-19 pandemic has devastated many Americans living in downtown New York. The infection rate is high, and fatalities are swift and massive. The healthcare sector is overwhelmed by many infected individuals, and the hospital wards and morgues are packed to the brim. Although the streets are empty, the ambulance sirens are unending as many more people succumb to the infection and need urgent medical care. The lockdown measures are precipitating a humanitarian crisis because many households are running out of food and supplies. People are apprehensive because no one seems to know what to do except stay indoors and call 911 if a household member develops severe Covid-19 symptoms. The only connection that residents have with the outside world is the television, which is awash with news about the desperation and crisis across the country.
Public Safety Sector
The emergency medical services is the public safety sector service selected for this analysis. Emergency medical services provide ambulatory services outside the hospital setting. It aims at stabilizing patients and victims before they arrive at a healthcare facility for further care. The emergency medical services are provided in ambulances, including vehicles and aircrafts, used to stabilize patients and transport them to healthcare facilities. In this case, the healthcare agency operates vans, helicopters, and light aircrafts as ambulances used for rescuing and transporting patients to hospitals. The agency also has a team of paramedics comprised of diverse medical professionals. The agency also enlists volunteers to facilitate evacuation activities in the event of major disasters.
Analysis of Crisis Situation
The crisis presented by a pandemic the proportions of the ongoing Covid-19 one is dire, confusing, scary, unpredictable, enormous. It is a crisis that has not been experienced before by the current generation of Americans. Many Americans have only heard of the Spanish flu that decimated a fraction of the global population and continued for a protracted period before dissipating. Therefore, this crisis presents significant public safety threats because when people witness many fatalities, including losing their loved ones in rapid succession, experience critical levels of supply shortages, and are kept indoors for protracted periods, they are likely to develop behaviors and engage in actions that threaten public safety (Urick, Carpenter & Eckert, 2021). For instance, they can decide to leave their homes and venture outside, against the public health protocols. This can increase the risk of contracting and spreading the virus from and to others. They could also raid retail outlets to replenish their depleted household supplies. Such raids could turn violent, destroying property and endangering lives. Besides, people could hold protests against the lockdown measures or the ineffectiveness of the crisis mitigation efforts, which could have far-reaching effects on the economy and wellbeing of people and their families. Such protests could turn violent and endanger property and lives.
Role of Emergency Medical Services and Other Organizations
The primary role of emergency medical services is to stabilize people exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms at their homes. Specifically, the agency personnel administer first aid, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and oxygen inhalation, for patients experiencing breathing difficulties or are unconscious. The agency also transports the critically ill patients to healthcare facilities for further medical attention. The paramedics ensure that the patients are stabilized while being transferred in ambulances or aircrafts to hospitals and other healthcare facilities. However, the agency also assists in delivering supplies to families and neighborhoods experiencing shortages and cannot either go out to purchase or afford to buy household provisions. Besides, the agency workers and volunteers offer advice to the public on how to remain safe, avoid being infected or infecting others at home and in their communities, and maintain their mental health wellbeing through the traumatic period. These advices include recognizing the symptoms of the infection and mental disturbances and where they can seek help in case an individual’s case worsens.
A pandemic presents several challenges to the emergency services efforts because of its unpredictable nature and the fomenting public panic. With lockdowns in place and public health measures, the panic worsens, and people become desperate to survive amid the scares of being infected by the highly-infectious virus, depletion of their household supplies, growing fatigue of staying indoors for extended periods, and witnessing massive deaths in their midst. Consequently, crisis leadership experiences several challenges comprising response and intervention coordination, communication, encouraging fatigued responders, alongside ethical, legal, and decision-making challenges.
Crisis Leadership Challenges
The most significant challenge experienced in crisis leadership during a national pandemic is communication. The leader of the emergency medical services is confronted by a panicky public that is scared and confused. The leader needs to inform the public members in the community about the rescue efforts underway and the telephone numbers to use when confronted with medical emergencies in their households (Firestone, 2020). Such communication would help minimize panic and facilitate coordinated the ongoing rescue efforts. In the same vein, the agency leader can be challenged by communicating with the medical emergency fast responders in the agency and those in the other collaborating agencies to ensure a systematic, cohesive, and well-coordinated response and rescue effort. Fragmented emergency efforts often cause more harm than their intended good, and the leader’s tasks to engender cohesiveness of effort and purpose, and optimism, to avoid the chaos emanating from such fragmentation. Besides, the agency leader may face challenges communicating to the stakeholders through regular media briefings regarding the progress of the response and rescue efforts to calm the ongoing panic. In addition, the crisis leader may be challenged by responding to the negative sentiments broadcasted through the mass media and posted on social media platforms, which depict the crisis and the emergency medical responses inaccurately. For these reasons, the communication from the crisis leader needs to be informative, consistent, and convincing as well, to help the public deal with anxiety, anger, and confusion, while providing advice on how people can avoid exacerbating the already-dire situation (Sadiq, Kapucu, & Hu, 2020). In this regard, communication can be challenging when it is unclear, ambiguous, and inaccurate and can occur when the crisis leader panics, becomes confused and is frustrated by the ongoing medical response efforts and their suboptimal outcomes. The challenge then becomes communicating in a manner that avoids misunderstandings and ensures flawless coordination of efforts.
Normalcy bias is another challenge faced by the agency leader during a pandemic. The crisis leaders can underestimate the severity of the crisis precipitated by the pandemic by being led to disbelieving and minimizing the threat of the ensuing crisis and its impact on society (D’Auria & De Smet, 2020). This challenge emanates from the slow development and progression of the pandemic.
Lack of creativity and innovativeness can challenge a crisis leader faced with an unprecedented and unpredictable event. The Covid-19 pandemic is novel in proportion, impact, and outcomes, which no one has experienced before. Therefore, the crisis leader may not have any precedent event to compare with and may be confronted with situations beyond their professional training scenarios or experiences.
Ethical, legal, and decision-making challenges
Crisis leaders can encounter several ethical issues related to the public safety crisis presented by a national pandemic. For instance, the leaders may be unsure how to deal with responders and victims from cultural backgrounds different from their own. The leader may lack the cultural intelligence and sensitivity needed to deal with a diverse team and multicultural society. Similarly, crisis leaders may face legal challenges when they overstep their mandate and overreach to other jurisdictions beyond their legal boundaries. Besides, they may encounter difficult decisions related to communication, prioritization of efforts, and allocation of resources for the medical emergency response efforts (Firestone, 2020). These challenges may undermine the effectiveness of the crisis leader in a complex situation.
Applicable Leadership Concepts
Crisis leaders could apply a mix of several leadership styles that have been proven to be effective in crises situations. Transformational leadership, cognitive leadership, and democratic leadership are styles that have been found to be effective during crisis situations.
Transformational leadership is advocated for crisis leaders. Crisis situations present many uncertainties and the outcomes are often unpredictable. Therefore, transformational leaders can visualize the bigger picture and, therefore, decipher the ongoing situation before devising responses. Their vision is beyond overcoming the crisis because it focuses of building resilience against future crises. Therefore, the transformational crisis leader will engage others to understand the situation and craft a response approach while motivating others to perform their tasks, despite the challenging conditions (Desyatnikov, 2020). In this regard, they ooze optimism by giving hope that things would be better in the end.
Cognitive leadership style helps the crisis leader understand and focus on what needs to be done during a public safety crisis. Cognitive leaders have attributes, such as courage and good judgment, which helps them to lead their teams through ordeals, traumatic situations, and unpredictable circumstances, such as those presented by the Covid-19 pandemic (Connolly, 2020). Cognitive leaders can be trusted and trust others. They also focus on the lessons learned and therefore, can easily forgive others for their mistakes so long as they learn their lessons and avoid repeating the errors in the future (Sadiq, Kapucu & Hu2020). Such leaders are very confident without being arrogant, therefore, making effective team leaders. However, despite being good communicators, cognitive leaders can sometimes be callous and insensitive to the challenges team members may be encountering is their crisis response measures.
Likewise, the democratic leadership style is critical in new crisis situations that have not been experienced before. Democratic leaders realize that they may not know every about the crisis situation and that other team members can contribute to the crisis response effort. In this regard, they involve others in making decisions, and are therefore seen as collaborative team leaders. Besides, they value the opinions of others because they believe that the best solution and course of action during a crisis is not premised in any one individual but in the collective knowledge of the team.
These three leadership styles embody specific leadership concepts that could make leaders successful during public safety crises. The leaders are proactive yet responsive. This means that they are sensitive to what is going on in their environment and respond speedily to issues that can compromise the effectiveness of their crisis management and interventions. They are also creative, flexible, and adaptive, thus making them devise new ways of addressing novel crises, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, which no one of this generation has experienced before (Connolly, 2020). They will consider several options before arriving at the best approach to utilize, and will brainstorm with others to identify new opportunities and solutions for addressing the public safety crisis. Besides, their adaptability enables them to function in unfamiliar situations yet remain effective in their leadership. From another perspective, although the crisis leaders employing these leadership styles are collaborative and accommodating, they are resolute in the decision-making. They also exhibit good interpersonal skills, which help them navigate team members and stakeholders of diverse temperaments, cultural orientations, and skills (Nichols, Hayden, & Trendler, 2020). The leaders are also ethical because they value social justice and fairness in the administration of their crisis Reponses. They realize that all victims are similar in their plight and deserve fair attention from the emergency medical agency.
Leadership Plan for Handling Media Relations
This leadership plan outlines how a crisis leader should approach media and forge a productive relationship during a public safety crisis, such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
The goal of the plan is to develop good working relations with the media. Therefore, the objectives of the plan are:
- To identify the media companies and personalities that cover and report on the crisis
- To create a team that generates media statements for the agency
- To determine the location and frequency of the media briefings
- To create a communication team with individuals assigned to diverse functions.
- To identify the designated person to act as the spokesperson for the agency and the main liaison between the agency and media company
- To create the rules of engagement with the media
- To outline the dispute resolution mechanisms to be employed in case of a conflict
- Allocate resources to each function and operation of the communication team
The duties of each member of the communication team are outlined. These include the roles, responsibilities, desired skill sets, tasks to be performed. Also the communication channels to be used are identified beforehand. A multichannel approach should be adopted in which different communication modes are employed, including telephone, e-mail, social media, radio and television, and newspapers. Finally, a follow-up mechanism is outlined. This mechanism is activated whenever there are any issues pending to be addressed. The aim should be address issues as fast as possible.
Crisis leadership is experiencing unprecedented times in public safety crisis. The pandemic has demonstrated the heightened interaction with the media alongside other challenges that crisis leaders encounter. While the crisis leaders should demonstrate adeptness in handling the complex emergency medical issues confronting an emergency medical services agency, they should also communicate well internally and with external stakeholders to ensure that the right information permeates to the public. For this reason, cordial relationships with the media are pertinent to ensure that the public and stakeholders remain informed promptly, correctly, and ethically.
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