These Risk Communication essays were completed in one of Mount Royal University public relations program’s fourth-year classes focusing on contemporary risk and crisis communication case studies (currently known as PUBR 4860). The papers were available for voluntary review by the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) based on a partnership with the PR department, which allows the top papers to be presented before CEMA’s professionals.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Alberta Health Services (AHS) Drug Safe Opioid Campaign by Aaryn Lynham (FIRST PLACE)

The opioid crisis in Alberta is a public health crisis, “[which is a] complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach including awareness, treatment, harm reduction and addressing organized crimeā€¯ (Government of Alberta, 2018a).  The Alberta government has been formally responding to the increase of opioid-related deaths since March 2015. The Chief Medical Officer of Health began leading an urgent opioid response in October 2016 (Government of Alberta, 2018c). In the first half of 2018, 355 Albertans died from accidental opioid overdoses and in 2017, 678 died. By September 1, 2018 (CBC, 2018a), an average of two people died each day from opioid overdoses in Alberta.

Download as a PDF here

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

The First Eight Hours Following Environmental Hazards by Trinh Dong (SECOND PLACE)

The purpose of this study is to identify the role of emergency management plans in the first eight hours following a disaster. This study analyzes two wildfire cases in Northern California and Fort McMurray to evaluate the lessons learned. The two cases had different scenarios and outcomes, but they both highlighted the fact that the lack of effective communications channels and late evacuation notices had the most impacts on keeping affected residents safe. The main factors that contribute to the success of communications during wildfire disasters include selecting proper communication channels to inform residents in affected areas and having an evacuation emergency plan in place. This research then provides best practices that include using the emergency alert system and integrating different communications channels (social media, phone apps and radio) to update residents the progress of the fires and evacuation orders, providing the media with transparent information regarding the incidents and finding proper ways to communicate with vulnerable populations. The key activities that need to be completed during the first eight hours of the emergency based on the Protective Action Decision Model (PADM) are immediately issuing an alert warning, activating the emergency management team and making decisions regarding evacuation as soon as possible.

Download as a PDF here

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Mitigating the Impacts of a Natural Disaster by Sarah Bartlett (THIRD PLACE)

The purpose of this research essay is to discuss the methods in which emergency management organizations can improve their understanding of vulnerable populations during a natural disaster. Hurricane Maria stood out as one of the most impactful case studies in regard to risk communication and risk management with vulnerable populations. For instance, local officials and governments found themselves unprepared for the natural disaster (Acevedo & Amiri, 2018, para. 4). In reviewing this case study, key recommendations were highlighted to support my argument that vulnerable populations require specialized care and communication throughout a natural disaster.

Download as a PDF here