Communicating in Time: Wildfires and Incident Response
The California wildfires have been especially devastating this year, with fires reaching unprecedented sizes. Hundreds of thousands of acres have been burned and it may take until September to contain the fiercer fires. When it comes to emergencies like wildfires, strong incident response is important for protecting those affected.
Incident Response and Efficient Communication
A defining factor in wildfires is that the situation can change—and it can change quickly. Evacuation orders that were issued may suddenly need to be changed; emergency responders may need to be notified of a change in plan due to a wind shift. Incident response plans need to be able to keep up the pace with these rapid changes.
But situations like wildfires may make it difficult to develop versatile incident response plans because communications are inherently challenging in these cases. Wildfires can knock out cell phone service and many people no longer use landlines. So, what can be done to both notify people living in areas impacted by wildfires and to ensure communications between those responding to the fires are ongoing?
These days people are deeply reliant on their smart phones—especially text messaging. 90% of people read a text message with 3 minutes of the receipt. It also allows people to communicate without having to pick up the phone—reducing the amount of time to respond. But critically, during a situation like a wildfire, cell phone service may simply not be available.
This is where secure messaging platforms like Vaporstream step in. Platforms that can be utilized on both wifi and cellular networks help ensure that communications remain ongoing—even if cell-service is down.
Meeting People Where They’re At
Secure Messaging platforms like Vaporstream play an important role in incident response not only because they remain functional even in cases of downed cell-service but because they communicate with people in a way that they are comfortable. As mentioned above, people are far more responsive to messages than other forms of communication. And people are used to downloading apps on their phone—apps are used for everything these days from banking to navigation. It makes sense then, to use a messaging app to notify people and keep them safe during an emergency like wildfires. This type of technology is especially important for healthcare organizations and public health organizations – both dealing with those who may be injured or relocated due to the crisis.
The wildfires unfortunately can be unpredictable. The tools used in incident response need to be able to respond to that unpredictability – to aid organizations helping to assist with evacuation, response strategies, relocation of citizens and those who are injured.