Crisis commons is a dialogue. The Ebola case
2014 is coming to an end and it will be remember at the Ebola crisis year in Spain due to three cases within our frontiers. Two of them were priests who had been infected in Liberia (Miguel Pajares) and Sierra Leone (Manuel García Viejo). They both died in Carlos III Hospital. The third one was a Health Care Assistant who attended Manuel Garcia and who, finally, survived the virus, though we don’t know whether it was due to her own resources or to the treatment she received in hospital. The good news is that Teresa Romero is alive and that we have some lessons learnt to improve crisis communications.
Since I already explained in iRescate what went wrong and what should had been done, as well as good practices here, I would like to focus now on the protocols and the information available in plane Spanish that could have been followed from the very beginning and were partly applied later on.
To start with, we have the Plan de Comunicación para posible primer caso de Ébola (Communication Plan for a possible Ebola First Case) by the Organización Panamericana de la Salud (Pan American Health Organization) and the Organización Mundial de la Salud (WHO). This document explains clearly why we should inform as soon as possible and insists on the need to so to stop rumor. The words certainty, transparency and immediacy are everywhere across the text.
It also advances the evidence that there could be Ebola cases out of Africa and offers a list of the questions that should be answered in due time taking into consideration all the information channels (traditional and new media, sms, webs, emails and so on).
Moreover, the communication plan dedicates a whole page to the PIOs, numbering who should say what and when.
The social media era: communication is a two way channel
What caught my attention was a single line where it is said that crisis commons is a dialogue.
The Spanish authorities not only did not deliver information when expected but neither did they answer to the citizens or journalist questions in a suitable way until Fernando Simon was named as a spokesperson.
Why does it seem so difficult to handle crisis communication when all the recipes are at hand?
Let’s hope the lessons be learnt for once in case it is needed.