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On August 5, 2010, The Chilean Copper mine collapse with 33 workers confined in a 2,257 feet hole, which was the size of a mini studio apartment (msnbc.com news services, 2010). Their families, friends, and co-workers were worried frantically about their safety, and not being able to reach the miners left everyone at unease. The Rescuers and the Chilean Copper president’s came together to find a resolution as to the cause of this situation and how to rescue their employees. Families and co-workers of these miners have questions that wanted immediate answers, and it is the companies responsibly to provide answers. The company should have a plan of emergency action for these types of incident and be implemented in training programs when hired or promoted. There should be reputable spokesperson on hand to communicate with families, co-workers, and the media. The first action to take place is to immediately control the situation, and prevent any rumors from uprising through the workplace or the media.
Have somebody Reputable from the company to hold a face to face verbal meeting explaining what emergency incident just occurred and what the companies’ plan of action is going to be. It is important to present only facts to this meeting so that there are no assumptions as to what is really taking place. Be honest, open, clear and concise in these meeting so the audience can listen and decode the message the spokesperson is conveying. The spokesperson should be able to answer all questions presented to the room, as long as the spokesperson has evidence to back it up. Otherwise, being honest and saying, “we are looking into that,” is the best option for this type of situation. If the company has a morning and evening shift, then having the meeting write when both shifts are about to cross would be an effective way to control any rumors, explain the situation, and answer any questions. This will save time so the company can delegate the situation currently on hand.
The second action is to have another reputable spokesperson to notify the minors’ families of the incident. The first step to communicating to the miners loved ones is by phone and then a face-to-face verbal communication should take place. It is important to be sympathetic and compassionate when relaying this type of information to the families. Calling each miners emergency contact would be the start but should not provide too much information over the phone, but just ask the family or friend to come down to the job site immediately. Providing information over the phone can create media attention rapidly and cause panic to the person. Hold a meeting as soon as the miner’s family and friends have arrived and provide information that the company has facts on. Do not delude the people in thinking, the situation is worse or better than what the facts actually say, but be honest and clear about the situation.
It is a good idea to have a mediator around if the company decides to have a verbally conversation that is one on one with a family member, and this will prevent any rumors as well. Inform the employees and families that it is in the best interest for the company and the families of the miners to avoid answering questions to the media. When speaking to the media without knowing all the facts or going based on what you heard without fully researching the situation can lead to panic and discomfort for the families and loved ones. For instance, in the situation the media publicly announced on August 26, 2010 that it would take the rescuer’s four months to rescue the miners. However, According to msnbc.com news services (2010), Health Minister Jaime Manalich said, “they would not be rescued before the Fiestas Patrai’s,” and Fiestas Patrai’s is Chile’s Independence Day celebration, held on September 18. That is only forty-four days, and a big difference from 120 days.
Preventing the media from misleading reports can be achieved by avoiding the media. The company should offer counseling to the families and co-workers to help deal with this situation, and provide any assistance to make this incident go smoother for them. After the company has all the facts and knows what they are facing then have a reputable spokesperson address the media, family, friends, and co-workers with all the facts at hand. This will help all parties understand what they are in for and to start dealing with the situation at hand. Keeping the all parties informed throughout the rescue process though meetings or the media is important. Having somebody from the company to go to the miners loved ones face to face or calling them to ensure that they are well, is a great way to provide answer to the individual parties.
This situation affects everyone, families, friends, co-workers, and global. It is never easy to try to control and sustain a crisis like this but avoiding rumors, which are usually just opinions from others around, can help everybody. The miners loved ones just have one care in the world, that is getting them out safe and healthy, and that is all that should matter, but sometimes the media likes to turn embellish the truth. The important thing in this type of situation is too continual to provide information to all parties so they are properly informed. It is better to hear from the people who are actually in the rescue process rather than an outside source. This will provide all parties some ease to their pain even if it is not good information; at least they understand the situation.
msnbc.com news services. (2010). Drill breaks through to trapped Chilean miners. Retrieved from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39558833/ns/world_news-americas/t/drill-breaks-through-trapped-chilean-miners/