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Chaotic Communication Adds to Pain of Texas School Shooting

From Christopher J. Tennyson, writing for Crisis Quotient Blog –

In the Early Hours of a Crisis,
Getting Things Right Trumps Fast Response

We’re all still processing the horror of last week’s mass murder in Uvalde, Texas. Continuing confusion about just what happened at Robb Elementary School that day is adding to the pain being felt by the victims’ families, the people of Uvalde and our nation.

All the facts are never known in the minutes and hours immediately following an incident of this magnitude. The fog of crises is as real and challenging as the fog of war. Spokespersons representing the school, Uvalde and local law enforcement had to feel overwhelmed not just by the unthinkable loss of life — 19 third and fourth graders and two teachers — but also by the responsibility thrust upon them to communicate with audiences desperate for information. Parents as close as the Robb School parking lot and reporters representing news outlets from around the world were demanding answers.

“How quickly did law enforcement respond to the event? Why was the shooter in a classroom for an hour before officers took his life, eliminating the threat? Was a back door to the school really propped open by a teacher?”

Unfortunately, initial news briefings, relayed in part by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, were inaccurate. Timeframes didn’t make sense, a report of a police officer confronting the gunman at the door of the school turned out to be false. As more and more information had to be pulled back and corrected, audiences lost trust in the credibility of the authorities providing the updates.

That mistrust continues to cloud news coverage, casting first-responders, school officials and local municipal leaders in a very negative light.

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