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Handbook for the Crisis Communication Center

Bolanle A. Olaniran and Juliann C. Scholl

Crisis communication plays an important role in maintaining a community’s safety and security. While governments devote significant attention to national crises, anticipation and preparation specific to local communities is imperative and can assist media outlets, elected officials, and message designers in successfully reaching their intended target audiences. However, local leaders might not possess the communication skills and knowledge needed to prepare a local community for potential crises. Therefore, there is a need for communities to have support systems in place to help them respond and communicate appropriately.

This volume provides a comprehensive resource that provides the knowledge and guidelines that can be used for localized crisis preparation. Focusing on crisis preparedness/readiness, it discusses and extends the anticipatory model of crisis management (AMCM) in the establishment of crisis communication centers (CCCs) within local communities and municipalities across the U.S. The authors advocate for communities to create CCCs that would be comprised of municipal and community members who can fulfill specific functions on a team tasked with preparing for crisis, as well as responding to a crisis aftermath.

Directions for  future research such as the comparison of specific crisis prevention strategies across similar local communities, and developing new and innovative ways to collect and warehouse large amounts of crisis data, is provided.

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Chapter 6. Health Crises: Epidemics and Biological Impacts


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Chapter Highlights

The CCC’s role in information dissemination, coordination of local organizations, and relating to the media

Threats to a community’s biological health and safety—real or anticipated—deserve serious attention from the CCC. The high price of unpreparedness for biological threats can include litigation and court costs, damage to property and health, and the loss of the public’s trust (Scholl, Williams, & Olaniran, 2005). Community members and leaders can never fully anticipate such costs, which are likely greater than those incurred when preventive measures are taken.

The issue of health and biological crises deserves special attention in this chapter. As explained later on, crises that affect public health don’t necessarily have to originate from health threats, but they can also emerge from nonhealth ← 147 | 148 → disasters, such as terrorist attacks and naturally occurring events like earthquakes. Public health and safety encompasses many aspects: biology, environment, lifestyle, and health services. Virtually every organization and service provider within a community has a stake in public health. The success of local actions to address and to curtail biological disasters rests in the ability of community and municipal agencies to coordinate and to be in communication with one another. A discussion and application of the anticipatory model for crisis management are appropriate when it comes to health and safety threats. For example, local health communities have to be in a vigilant and...

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