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Communication during mass casualty decontamination: highlighting the gaps

Holly Carter (Emergency Response Department, Health Protection Agency, Salisbury, UK)
John Drury (School of Psychology, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK)
G. James Rubin (Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, UK)
Richard Williams (Welsh Institute for Health and Social Care, University of Glamorgan, Pontypridd, UK)
Richard Amlôt (Emergency Response Department, Health Protection Agency, Salisbury, UK)

International Journal of Emergency Services

ISSN: 2047-0894

Article publication date: 12 July 2013

867

Abstract

Purpose

Effective communication has been recognised as an important issue for the management of incidents involving decontamination; evidence shows that failure to communicate effectively may result in increased public anxiety and non‐compliance. This paper aims to examine current provision for communicating with members of the public during decontamination, to facilitate the development of improved responder communication strategies.

Design/methodology/approach

To examine the current provision for communicating with members of the public, the authors reviewed open source decontamination guidance documents for responders, as well as published reports of emergency preparedness exercises involving decontamination.

Findings

The review of decontamination guidance documents showed that specific guidance for professional responders on how to communicate with the public during incidents that involve decontamination could be improved. Similarly, the review of published decontamination exercises shows that a stronger emphasis on communication with members of the public is needed, in addition to the use of exercises to evaluate the effectiveness of communication strategies.

Originality/value

The present research summarises existing evidence relating to how communication strategies employed by responders can shape public responses to decontamination. Analysed alongside current decontamination guidance for emergency responders, this evidence highlights potential gaps in planning for communicating with members of the public during decontamination. It is hoped that this will promote an increased understanding of the importance of communication during these types of incidents, which will in turn facilitate the development of more comprehensive responder communication strategies.

Keywords

Citation

Carter, H., Drury, J., Rubin, G.J., Williams, R. and Amlôt, R. (2013), "Communication during mass casualty decontamination: highlighting the gaps", International Journal of Emergency Services, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 29-48. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJES-06-2012-0026

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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