A Visit to the Joint Information Center

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A group of aspiring reporters recently had the chance to visit the Denver Joint Information Center.Upon arrival, none of the kids in the group knew what a Joint Information Center was.

A group of aspiring reporters recently had the chance to visit the Denver Joint Information Center.Upon arrival, none of the kids in the group knew what a Joint Information Center was. That was going to change.They walked into the Joint Information Center (JIC) to find a few tables, each lined with computer workstations. The first impression of the room was something like a NASA control room. The computers were lined up in straight rows, and all of the reporters wanted to know what they were meant to be used for.

 

Carolyn Bluhm, a Community Relations Specialist, started out explaining what the JIC's purpose actually is. She explained that the JIC communicates information about emergencies to the public either directly, or through the media. Carolyn goes around to schools, faith groups, and other institutions to talk about what they can do to be prepared in case of emergency, and she gave that same talk to the reporters that were visiting. She told them the basics of what to do to be prepared for an emergency, as well as handed out packets of information to help to be prepared for an emergency.

 

To be prepared for an emergency, one should arrange a plan with their family. The plan should include what someone should do in an emergency, as well as where to go, so your family doesn't lose you, and you don't lose them.

 

One should also have a kit of things they might need in an emergency near them at all times. The kit should include food, water, a flashlight, a first aid kid, and anything else one might need to survive when trapped or when one does not have access to basic necessities. Lynn Kimbrough, a volunteer at the JIC, told the group a little more about what the JIC does during an emergency. Lynn went over the three messages the JIC sends out during an emergency.

 

The first, and most important, are messages that tell what one should do to save lives during an emergency. For example, in a tornado, the JIC would send out a message for people to find shelter, and would specify what kind of shelter to take.

 

The second type of message that the JIC sends out tell people what to do to save their property. For example, during a flood, the JIC would tell people where it is safe to drive a car, and where they should stay away.

 

The third type of message that the JIC sends out are messages of reassurance, ones that tell people not to completely panic because they hear a siren. These messages also tell people when the emergency will stop.

 

When asked how these messages are conveyed, Lynn says that they use a variety of fashions, including their website, blog, and Twitter, as well as an email subscription list, and the good old fashioned telephone.

 

Another big job of the JIC, Lynn says, is to watch to see what the media is saying. If any of the media messes up and says something that is not factually correct, the JIC will immediately contact them and tell them what to correct.

 

Hanging on the wall in the room, is their unofficial motto, "We'd rather be paranoid…. than right." Even though they may not know it, the general public, too, would rather the JIC be paranoid… than right.

 

For more information about emergency preparedness, visit www.ready.gov