The National Hurricane Conference - Dialogue and Lessons Learned

The National Hurricane Conference - Dialogue and Lessons Learned

04.05.13 | By Erin Mullen

Last week at the National Hurricane Conference, Rx Response announced a new, easier-to-remember name and website for its much-praised pharmacy status reporting tool - Rx Open . The conference was a great experience for me as an emergency manager, weather geek and hurricane survivor. I met Bryan Norcross, who talked me & thousands of other South Floridians through the night 20 years ago as we were hit by Hurricane Andrew. And, of course, I met an incredible group of dedicated professionals in meteorology, public safety and emergency management. We talked about Rx Response's experiences and the lessons learned as a result of our response to Sandy, which you can read about in our Hurricane Sandy report. What struck me, as I talked with attendees, is the common struggle we all face as public health professionals, emergency managers or clinicians to develop messaging that motivates the public to respond with the behavior we need during an emergency: to get vaccinated, evacuate a dangerous area, or plan your medication needs before disaster strikes. Dr. Earl "Jay" Baker presented research showing that even when people knew there was a danger, they often misunderstood the actual risk, and their incomplete knowledge led to the wrong decisions not to evacuate their homes when they were in danger. Dr. Rick Knabb, Director of the National Hurricane Center, talked about the decisions he and his staff had to make when communicating about the nature of a tropical system (hurricane vs. post-tropical) and the consequences of that storm making landfall. FEMA's Administrator Craig Fugate expressed frustration with the public's continued unwillingness to heed pre-storm warnings. In public health, we waste resources proving again and again that vaccines are safe, effective, and appropriate health interventions that reduce morbidity and mortality significantly. And in clinical practice, we see the effects of non-adherence in decreased health outcomes and antibiotic resistance. These common challenges of developing the right communications to motivate changes in behavior to achieve health and safety goals are recurrent ones. There is never one answer...we all take in information in many ways, and there are many things that influence the decisions we make based on our personal experiences and the information we have collected. What motivates you to take action? Leave us a comment to share what works to get you to do what's right for your own health and safety and that of your family. Maybe your secret to success can help motivate others!

 

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