Using Social Media In An Emergency


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Sam Thomas shares her experiences using social media as an accomplished communicator in the emergency services industry. Read more at

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  • The way news is ‘broken’ has changed. TV, radio and newspapers are no longer the place where news is broken. It happens online first. Those involved in relief efforts in Japan took to Twitter , posting information about everything from emergency phone lines to tsunami alerts, altered train schedules and lists of shelters for those left homeless .
  • Or a plane crash landed in the Hudson…
  • Or when a passenger waiting in a café told the world about a plane crash at Schiphol Airport. It’s easy to think it only happens when it’s a major incident
  • And then this happened in Liverpool in 2009. July 6.
  • It led to Merseyside fire starting a Twitter account @merseyfire
  • Our second big encounter on Twitter was in April last year, when there was a major fire in the middle of the night. It was our biggest incident for 20 years. Traditional newsdesks on radio and newspapers were not working but the community used Twitter and Facebook to talk about what was happening. There were more than 500 tweets about this fire by the time we got into the office at 8.30 the next morning. The issue was that not all information was accurate, they gave wrong locations, they gave wrong road closures and wrong causes of the fire. We were able to track what was said because a hashtag had been set up
  • We’ve now got several Facebook pages, a YouTube account and Twitter profile – we’re taking our news to where the public are rather than waiting for them to visit our website.
  • Whether it’s emergency incidents, public reassurance, safety campaigns or just promotion of current activity, it’s all being done on social media. Whatever the subject, whatever the news, there is a social media channel for it and a willing audience.
  • We keep updated with what’s being said about us on social media through free tools - Tweetdeck
  • Some of the feedback we have had and might not have otherwise have received it is wasn’t for social media
  • Using Social Media In An Emergency

    1. 1. The Tweet is on By Sam Thomas Communications Manager, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service
    2. 6. 12:11:56 Merseyside fire crews first arrive at the scene of a collapsed crane 12:15:06 Liverpool Echo contacts Fire Service for info
    3. 9. How social media is used by other fire services South Yorkshire snow Norfolk #testittuesday Kent Facebook ads for IRMP North Wales student safety Cambridgeshire arson reassurance London fire safety champions
    4. 12. <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>