As you experienced the role of the community/public health nurse in a disaster response, what were your initial reactions?
How could social media channels play a role in communicating a disaster to the public? What might be the positives and negatives about using social media to communicate to the public? How else could social media be used in an emergency response?
My initial emotion was tension as a public health nurse working in a catastrophe response. I was worried because I wasn't sure if I was doing the rational thing. The primary issue was that I wanted to help but didn't know where to begin. Nurses play an important part in disaster relief, assisting in the achievement of the intended goals. A nurse who is not fully prepared could be more of a hindrance than a help in disaster response. Preparing for a calamity is best done before it happens. Understanding catastrophe response and recovery plans, operational procedures, and safety precautions may help nurses understand what their employers require. During my experience, despite being ready for the disaster response, I was anxious while conducting triaging. During the response, nurses engage the disaster preparedness plan in respective hospitals, assess cases, offer emergency treatment for injured persons, and help arrange evacuations and patient transfers to other healthcare centers.
Social media gives real-time information to Law enforcement, government, the general public, and friends and family when a disaster occurs. People post photographs and videos of disasters taking place right before their eyes (Lovari, 2020). The information posted on social media is frequently seen by the public sooner than disseminated by media houses and magazines. During a crisis, authorities use social media to inform the public about where help is available and when they expect to arrive in affected areas. Any photographs or videos posted to social media sites help document the devastation to the impacted areas and find survivors. Upon entering the scene, these visuals alert emergency responders to the reality of the problem (Lovari, 2020). After a disaster, social media is utilized to assist people in locating family members, pets and personal possessions. It also informs the public about contributions and relief activities, as many people may require basic necessities such as clothes, non-perishable food, and a secure shelter.
Social media networks have both advantages and drawbacks for crisis communication. The timeliness, convenience, and interaction of social media channels allow organizations to communicate more personalized, real, and transparent communications to populations (Lovari, 2020). An organization that utilizes social media for crisis communication may appear more compassionate, concerned, and devoted due to these benefits. Social media channels can also help organizations have more individualized and genuine discussions with constituents during a crisis. On the other hand, the rapidity with which people communicate on social media has a negative side. It permits bad feedback to spread rapidly in a way that the organization can't control. Some social media material is also untrustworthy, and some target demographics are difficult to reach (Lovari, 2020). Another problem is that while an organization may control its material on social media, its users cannot control how its information is interpreted, commented on, or shared.
Scammers also use social media. Scammers often use social media to construct fake rescue programs in an attempt to grab cash and credit card details during and after disasters. Before anyone donates to any organization, it is important to do some homework and make sure it's a real organization (Lovari, 2020). Many social media platforms, such as Facebook, enable users to create their groups. Inviting family and friends to use this group in a crisis is a good idea. Making a specific online location where one may share information on escape routes and actual whereabouts in the event of an emergency. Social media has a significant effect on how people prepare, organize, and respond to disasters. Embracing new technology will allow those in need to receive assistance in real-time in ways that were unimaginable even a decade ago.
Lovari, A., & Bowen, S. A. (2020). Social media in disaster communication: A case study of strategies, barriers, and ethical implications. Journal of Public Affairs, 20(1), e1967.
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