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Mayday, Mayday, Mayday

“In short, if you own it or have responsibility for it—you have an obligation to communicate when the circumstances warrant.”

If you’ve ever been listening to a guard frequency and heard a mayday call you probably will never forget the emotional distress and anxiety communicated in that message. Most people in distress cannot control the anxiety in their voice. I’ll never forget the very first SAR (Search and Rescue) case I went on. I was a Coast Guard helicopter co-pilot fresh out of U. S. Naval Flight Training. A vessel was east of Miami taking on water. Although it was the middle of the afternoon I was struck by how dark it was offshore. The thunder storms had built up off shore and were making for some terrible conditions with wind, rain, and lightening. One poor fishing vessel was in the middle of that storm taking on water and desperately communicating their distress over Channel 16, the marine band hail and distress frequency.

My helicopter and crew launched out of the Coast Guard’s air station in Miami. As we crossed the coast line east bound and declared “feet wet” to our controllers, I was struck by the wakes of boats on the water all headed due west for the safety of the Miami port. All these recreational boaters were B-lining it for the port trying to out run the storm to get home. Then I saw one boat headed East with us and I was about to proclaim alleluia, somebody is a good Samaritan when I realized it was one of our Coast Guard boats plowing head on into the storm. I remember thinking “how come nobody else is headed out to help this mayday vessel? Surely somebody is closer to them than we are and will help.” The veteran pilot in command that day reminded me that “less than 1% of the population has the rescue response. Don’t expect much help from anyone else out here today.” Long story short; we found them, delivered a couple pumps and circled above until our Coast Guard rescue boat arrived and took them in tow. The part I’ll never forget is that those guys on that boat, the survivors, really thought they were goners. You could hear in their voices when they talked on the radio. Until we showed up, the fear in their voices was imminently clear. They were counting on us to be their miracle. Then, how quickly things turned around when they were able to get our pumps running and they were dewatering their boat. On that day we were their miracle and another couple of fisherman made it home to their families.

When your business is in the middle of a crisis and you are praying for that miracle give us a call. Better yet, before you have that crisis give us a call and let us lead you through a series of scenarios that are likely to impact your business and help you develop well thought out responses and communications plans. At Crisis1 we bring a systems approach to your crisis resolution. We’ll examine the four key components of the strategic communication process: People, Policies, Plans, and Platforms© and help your organization develop the processes and establish a culture with the bias to communicate.

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