A Flood of Likes

Working to respond to the flooding in Louisiana, the Louisiana Task Force 1 USAR team was also the recipient of requests for assistance or information via Facebook Messenger. Performing search and rescue missions, the team also took care to forward these messages on to the message to appropriate authorities, and to respond to the senders to ensure they know their request had been received.

While their experience in communication via social media channels was positive overall, based on their experiences, a set of seven lessons learned were identified by LATF-1 for the handling of social media by in the event of an emergency:

  • Designate one person to handle all social media responses and postings.
  • Ensure that no personal contact information is available on the public page.
  • Pre-identifying contact information that the public can use to request aid.
  • Alert followers to an activation within 24 hours.
  • Have an automatic response to Facebook messages.
  • Pre-script responses for requests for aid, with the next steps delineated depending on the type of request received.
  • Develop a mechanism for determining the timeliness of a second-hand request for aid to avoid any false alarms.