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Rock On Emily!

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Hurricane Sandy brought New York and New Jersey to their knees earlier this week. This anticipated “mega-storm” whupped butt on the “Big Apple” and surrounding cities.  As everyone starts picking up the pieces, stories of heroism and alturism are beginning to emerge.  One of those being lauded for response in crisis is Emily Rahimi, a social media spokesperson for the Fire Department of New York.  She reportedly solely managed and monitored Twitter during the height of the storm, relaying, responding and reassuring hundreds of citizens seeking help. Emily, you were fantastic!  I watched your responses, and how you connected with citizens seeking comfort and help.  Strong work..,… BUT, I have two questions for FDNY administration (and New York OEM for that matter).;

  1. Where the hell were you?  If there was ever a time for “Command Presence” in the city, this was it.  You missed a golden opportunity to connect, not only with those who now rely on streamed video and internet news, but also those around the world who tuned in to see what was happening in real time.  Especially when it came to over 100 homes burning in Queens. I’m sure you guys were busy, But, those of us in the cheap seats were wondering – What were you doing?  Social media channels noted the conflagration, including links to radio frequencies and Instagrams of the fire.  Yet, mainstream media did not pick up on the fire until way late.
  2. Only one person (Emily) is being lauded for her work in monitoring social media channels during this historic event in the largest city in the United States.  Was she “it”? Really? Only one person responsible for monitoring and responding to likely thousands of social media messages?  I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt and thinking that you must have had many more folks operating in your ICS structure (PIO/JIC) in supporting Emily, and that she was the visible point person in engagement. If so, great work. If not,  shame on you!  Get it right next time.

My questions are just a few of the many that will be asked over the next several months. Hurricane Sandy again emphasizes the importance of strong social media engagement, and I’m grateful Emily was there to “Rock the Show”.

Comments - Add Yours

  • Jim

    Kudos to this young lady (and I know she’s a young lady because I’ve yet to meet a public safety person tasked with social media who isn’t young).

    As the person who managed my Department’s social media presence during (and, more importantly for public health, after) the storm, it doesn’t surprise me that its just one person. And it wouldn’t surprise my friend at our local EMA who did the same, or the guy from the Fire Dept, or the police officer who single-handedly collected, catalogued and reported via Twitter every tree down, every road closed and every update on the storm.

    Luckily for us, the only difference between what she did and we did was volume. If the storm hit a bit further south, I could introduce you personally to the person this blog post would’ve been about.

    Flying solo seems to be the norm for now, sadly.

    Jim

About chiefb2

Retired fire chief,Type 3 AHIMT IC, PIO. Current industrial services safety professional, social media emergency management disciple (no, I'm not a "guru"). Crisis communications consultant. Dad with an open wallet.