Monday, August 13, 2007

Tough Crisis 

There are few crises more difficult to handle than a mine disaster. The crisis unfolds over time. Rescuers try to reach the buried men but it takes hours, days and sometimes, weeks. Families keep vigil at the mine along with dozens of media. Every rumor raises hopes or dashes them. Rescue managers are under huge pressure to get to the men before methane and carbon dioxide kill them-- that is, if they aren't dead already. Most of the time, there is no news. Drills have to chew through rock. Rescuers have to cut through tunnel walls. There is just waiting, waiting, waiting. The strain of it is unnerving. In this anxiety, someone has to go before cameras and microphones periodically and tell everyone what is happening. Dry statistical details of how far rescuers have proceeded fail to answer the question whether the buried are alive. No one knows until they get there. In a situation like this, any slipup will generate anger among the miners' families and be magnified in the news. One cannot afford a mistake. It takes strong, personal control and careful use of language to tell the facts without raising or dashing hopes.

I'm not sure how one trains anyone to handle communications at a time like this.


Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?