This section of the Toolkit provides a detailed description of the role of risk communication and the likely action steps that will need to be anticipated throughout an I & Q implementation. The Tools and Samples section offer a wide variety of links to generalized risk communication planning resources.
COMMUNICATION AS A KEY COMPONENT OF RESPONSE
In times of crisis and uncertainty, accurate and timely communication may be Public Health's most important intervention.
If SARS is any indication of the future, an outbreak requiring isolation and quarantine will attract intense and unrelenting media interest. In the early stages of an outbreak, information and facts may be incomplete, yet the media will press for credible information and eyewitness or victim stories, and the public will want guidance and reassurance. Given the added emphasis on risk communications, health officials and other response officials will want to avail themselves of current risk communications research and training.
SPEAK FIRST: COMMUNICATING EFFECTIVELY DURING TIMES OF CRISIS
Sooner or later, crisis strikes, evolving rapidly and unpredictably. Those on the front lines of Public Health must be ready to speak to the public right away, even before all the facts are known. In such times of crisis and uncertainty, the public needs to know that someone is in charge, a system is in place and a response is underway.
The CDC now urges all Public Health departments and their response partners to develop this vital risk communications capability.
Public Health's Speak First: Communicating Effectively in Times of Crisis and Uncertainty is a proven Advance Practice tool for building the skills to delivering "first messages"-a step by step approach for communicating in the early hours of a crisis. Effective first messages can save lives and will improve the quality of any response effort.