In the event of a bomb threat, it is crucial to have a concrete response procedure in place. This should include a procedure for reporting the threat to police, informing the public, and taking action to search the area and determine whether evacuation is necessary.
Communication will be a pivotal component of your bomb threat response plan. You need to ensure that your communication plan is thorough, and your methods are quick, effortless, and reliable in a crisis so everyone can get the information they need when they need it.
Are you developing a bomb threat communication plan, or perhaps revamping a currently existing one? Here are a few things to keep in mind.
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Every single bomb threat should be taken seriously and reported to the police as soon as possible. Upon receiving notice of the threat, police will need to determine whether the threat is specific or non-specific and act accordingly. A specific bomb threat is one that contains at least three detailed pieces of information, examples of which include:
- Specific location where the detonation will occur
- Identifying the person or group responsible for the threat
- Reasoning for the threat
- A description of the device
- How frequently detonations will occur
All bomb threats result in a search of the area by police, but a specific threat calls for a more thorough search, often with the extra help of volunteer emergency responders for efficiency. If a device or suspicious package is found during the search, the police should call for immediate evacuation of the premises.
Throughout this whole process, seamless communication will be critical. You will need to relay all details of the bomb threat to the police quickly so they can determine whether the threat is specific or nonspecific; the police will need to call in reinforcements right away if deemed necessary for the search; emergency personnel will need easy access to the areas they need to search; and once the search is complete, the results need to get back to you immediately, especially if an evacuation is necessary. All of this requires your lines of communication to be open and up to date, as well as having backup contact methods between stakeholders in case someone can't be reached via the primary method.
Keep the Public Informed
When an incident like a bomb threat occurs, people start talking; rumors can quickly spread and grow out of control, making it harder to get accurate information out there where everyone can see it. To avoid this, it's important to share relevant updates with the public as they occur. You don't need to share every nitty gritty detail with the public, but let them know what happened and how the situation is progressing.
Contact local news outlets, use your social media accounts, post on your website, and reach out to your contacts using their preferred contact methods. Make sure the information is easily accessible; this will not only help squash rumors, but it will also reduce the flood of phone calls and emails you'll receive directly if people can find their answers elsewhere.
Chances are you'll still get these direct phone calls and emails, however, so you should script your responses to frequently asked questions and update them when needed. This will save you time and ensure consistency as you will be giving everyone the exact same information.
Determine Social Media Engagement
Which of your social media accounts will be the go-to-place for updates? Will you answer the questions you'll most definitely get through Twitter replies? What about Facebook comments and messages? How often will you check for new questions if you choose to answer them?
Social media is becoming an increasingly relied-upon news source. When it comes to current and ongoing events like bomb threats, many people get their updates not from TV and radio, but Facebook and Twitter. Your social media accounts will be a powerful communication tool throughout a bomb threat, so it's important to determine as early as possible the extent to which you'll use them. Decide which accounts you'll use, whether you'll be answering questions or just providing updates, and keep your social media up to date with the latest information.
If you choose to answer questions on social media, be consistent. Check your notifications and inboxes regularly, and keep those scripted responses nearby in case you need them.
Need a Quick Communication Solution?
Multiple communication channels, templated messages, social media presence, and reliably consistent updates—these components can make or break your bomb threat response and communication plan. It's also quite a lot to keep track of, but SimplyCast's wide variety of emergency communication tools can make it so much easier.
How can SimplyCast help you in a bomb threat or other crisis? Check out the SimplyCast's emergency communication platform, EmergHub, to find out!