Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Vulnerable populations and crisis communication: A model for accessible disaster preparedness campaigns
by Hooper, Patricia Jean, Ph.D., University of Washington, 2010, 242; 3406071
Abstract (Summary)

This critical ethnography documents the process of the Washington State Accessible Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) Committee. Formed in 2004, its mission was to train disability advocates who would in-turn train members of their communities in disaster preparedness and response activities.

The committee was comprised of disability advocates, emergency management personnel, and a communication educator. It revised the national CERT curriculum according to standards of universal accessibility, trained people who self-identified as being disabled in disaster readiness and response activities, and created a community inclusion model for emergency preparedness.

After a successful week long pilot course offering of the Accessible CERT curriculum to participants with disabilities, both the Washington State and National CERT program (headquartered at the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington DC), chose not to adopt the curriculum.

This study demonstrates that public relations crisis communication campaigns are an effective structure to deliver information about disaster preparedness to vulnerable populations. It found that in order for crisis communication campaigns to become standard policy, they must have the support of policy makers at the highest levels of emergency management. It also established that the concept of including such publics is still in its infancy in the field of emergency management, which doesn't know how to access or analyze data to address issues related to vulnerable populations. This lack of sophistication causes a naïve approach in addressing the needs of people with disabilities in emergency preparedness and response policy and planning decisions.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Baldasty, Gerald J.
School: University of Washington
School Location: United States -- Washington
Source: DAI-A 71/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Environmental Studies, Public administration, Public policy, Mass communications
Keywords: Crisis communication, Disaster preparedness, Emergency management, Ethnography, Geography, Vulnerable populations
Publication Number: 3406071
ISBN: 978-1-109-72537-7
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