If the last couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that we need to know who the sources of our information are. This is especially important during the chaos of a large-scale emergency when rumors and random ponderings can quickly race through the community spreading unnecessary fear and confusion and potentially even endangering lives.
An example actually happened here in town last year during the Riley Central Fire. A rumor was spread that the fire was over 100 acres. Someone heard from someone who heard it from someone who . . . was not actually on scene and did not have access to the Oregon Department of Forestry‘s information gathered by plane. But the fire department did. Many people still tried to “correct” the information that we and ODF were releasing though. This caused fear and confusion. And it made our job harder.
In an emergency, you need to make sure that you are seeking out, listening to, and sharing from official sources. These sources have the most up to date information from all available resources.
Sometimes we as an official agency will make a mistake – there was no civil emergency, there weren’t any zombies, and there wasn’t a ballistic missile – but even when the official agency gets it wrong, we’re still the ones who have enough of the correct information to fix the mistake and get the correct information out to the public. Ironic, we know.
Did you know that Falls City Fire has a dedicated public information officer? Hint: that’s who writes these posts! 😉 My job is to get the right information to the right people at the right time so that they can make the right decision for themselves. That means I put out prevention information so you can take that information and put it to work in your life so you can prevent emergencies from happening. That means that during emergencies that effect the public, I put out information about the incident – from road closures to evacuation notices – so that you can avoid hassles and protect your family.
Most area agencies have a public information officer, although they might have a different title. We report directly to whoever is in charge of an incident so we have access to the latest information that you need to keep safe. We take that information and break it down into easier to understand language without all the jargon spoken in the field. Then we release it to the press and directly to you.
What you can do to help us out – and to help yourself out – is to follow our official sources of information now – BEFORE a major emergency when you need it! And during an emergency, you can do your part by only sharing from official sources.
The sources you will want to look for are things like government agencies at the city, county, state, and federal levels. These websites and social media accounts will be posting official information and sharing from other official sources. They can point you in the direction of which agency is in charge of an incident and whether or not an incident has its own social media pages.
A great place to start is our Community Information Resources page. We’ve listed local government pages as well as local services. We try to keep this updated and add new websites as we find ones that we think might be useful for you.
Official social media accounts are also becoming more and more important during emergencies:
- Falls City Fire
- Polk County Sheriff’s Office
- Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM)
- Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF)
- Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal
- Oregon State Police
Don’t forget to stop by the fire station tonight for our National Night Out Luau! You’ll get an in person Safety Tip Tuesday! We’ll have 9 other agencies in the house to answer all of your safety questions! Many of our special guests tonight are part of these official sources you’ll want to be following during a wide-scale emergency!