Ohio hospitals use SimulationDeck to practice communications strategies that will help keep their patients safe

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Ohio hospitals use SimulationDeck to practice communications strategies that will help keep some of their tiniest, most vulnerable patients safe.

For their severe weather and pediatric medical surge exercise scenario, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) wanted a way to effectively challenge hospital public information teams across the state.

To add realism to the exercise, ODH turned to SimulationDeck to provide an engaging platform for ODH and four participating hospitals to disseminate public information, alerts, and warnings, and perform other critical crisis communications functions. During the half-day exercise, Nusura subject matter experts represented members of the public, concerned hospital patients and their loved ones, journalists, and other interested parties, and posted news stories, blogs, social media posts and other content onto the SimulationDeck platform.

This content challenged more than a dozen hospital communicators and executive leadership teams to address hundreds of questions, rumors, and comments on simulated social media platforms with timely and accurate information. The participating hospitals worked together with ODH to coordinate messages, respond to rumors and respond to media inquiries, in a realistically high-pressure, real-time exercise environment.

  • The Challenge

    Functional exercises provide a unique opportunity to exercise plans, policies, and procedures. However, without intentional planning, these exercises can lack an engaging way to effectively test public information capabilities. For their severe weather and pediatric medical surge exercise scenario, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) wanted a way to effectively challenge hospital public information teams across with the added complexities and challenges of social and traditional media engagement.

  • The Approach

    During this exercise scenario, a tornado hit a hospital and required the transportation of hundreds of patients to regional hospitals. To add realism to the exercise, ODH turned to SimulationDeck to provide an engaging platform for ODH and four participating hospitals to disseminate public information, alerts, warnings, and perform other critical crisis communications functions.

    During the half-day exercise, Nusura subject matter experts represented members of the public, concerned hospital patients and their loved ones, journalists, and other interested parties. The team posted content such as news stories, blogs, social media posts and other content onto the SimulationDeck platform.

Hospital communicators worked together to issue emergency alerts and warning messages, provided general information, and identified and responded to rumors.

  • The Results

    This content challenged more than a dozen hospital communicators and executive leadership teams to provide timely and accurate information to address hundreds of questions, rumors, and comments on simulated social media platforms. The participating hospitals worked together with ODH to coordinate messages and to respond to rumors and media inquiries in a realistic, high-pressure, real-time exercise environment. As a result, these teams are now more prepared to work together and provide effective information in a real crisis.

Communications Support for a Large Utility Provider

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Following several high-profile crises, a government-owned agency that serves over nine million people in the areas of energy provision, environmental stewardship, and economic development turned to Nusura for help in updating and enhancing the organization’s crisis communications planning, training, and exercises.

  • The Challenge

    This client organization is a government-owned agency with three regional focus areas: provision of energy, environmental stewardship, and economic development. Its service area encompasses more than 80,000 square miles spanning seven states. With such a large geographic footprint and broad range of services, the client has complex communications needs, including frequent crisis and emergency communications challenges.

    In 2013, following several high-profile crises, the client prioritized updates and enhancement of the organization’s crisis communications planning, training, and exercises. The client needed a more robust and realistic means of training its communications team to effectively manage various crises.

The client recognized Nusura’s unique blend of emergency management and communications expertise, coupled with the realism SimulationDeck brings to exercises. The client contracted Nusura to develop effective emergency and crisis communications response plans, and to create a training program to improve the crisis response team’s efforts in an emergency.

  • The Approach

    Through stakeholder-driven interviews and planning workshops, the client worked with Nusura’s subject matter experts to identify gaps in crisis communications planning and to develop a Crisis Communications Plan that included Joint Information Center processes and protocols. On plan completion, subject matter experts also developed and delivered workshops, trainings, and exercises for the corporate communications team and emergency management personnel, as well as executive leadership. SimulationDeck was used in many of these exercises to provide the most realistic experience possible.

    As part of its contract, Nusura provided crisis response support in the event of real-world incidents. For example, the Nusura team designed and facilitated an active shooter tabletop exercise to test and validate the client’s Crisis Communications Plan. Members of the corporate communications team were joined by representatives from the client’s Emergency Management Office to discuss how the organization would respond to an active shooter in the client’s headquarters complex. Two hours into the exercise, the discussion was interrupted by an actual real-world crisis. The exercise was put on hold, while Nusura subject matter experts helped the communications team respond to the incident, using the Crisis Communications Plan to guide the organization’s actions.

    After the crisis was resolved, the Nusura team facilitated after-action discussions to validate the Crisis Communications Plan, identify lessons learned, and help the communications team consider corrective actions. The talking points and strategic guidance developed during this event led the client to consult Nusura during subsequent situations with critical public sentiment issues.

  • The Results

    As a result of Nusura’s work, the client has a comprehensive, National Incident Management System-consistent Crisis Communications Plan in accord with agency emergency response plans and protocols. This Communications Plan has been used as the backbone of communications response in multiple real-world crises, and has prompted enterprise-wide discussions and collaborative work to improve crisis mitigation and response. Nusura helps to regularly update this document based on lessons learned in real events and exercises.

The client’s emergency management personnel were so impressed with the realism SimulationDeck brings to exercises that they now use it for various types of exercises planned for the entire organization.

They’ve also strengthened working relationships within the client organization, as training and exercises have been inclusive of all business units and have prompted further discussion of how offices can collaborate in crises of all kinds. This includes a comprehensive, regularly updated training and exercise program to ensure communications staff are ready to respond in the event of a crisis or emergency.

All of this results in enhanced, realistic exercises for the entire enterprise. The client’s emergency management personnel were so impressed with the realism SimulationDeck brings to exercises that they now use it for various types of exercises planned for the entire organization. Nusura continues to provide ongoing training and exercises, as well as real-world crisis response support.

THE CLIENT'S PERSPECTIVE

Members of the corporate communications and emergency management teams who participated in Nusura-led training and exercises praised the realism and effectiveness of the training. One 25+ year team member noted that for the first time in her career, she had found training not only enjoyable, but realistic and useful in helping her address her job responsibilities

OTHER CASE STUDIES

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