Tag Archives: social media

Rhode Island | New initiative to bring wildfire training to rural fire departments

The Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Forest Environment is kicking off a new educational project this summer.

By leveraging grant funding from the US Forest Service with local matching funds from the RI State Firefighter’s League, along with assistance from the Northeast Forest Fire Protection Commission, DEM forest rangers are filming and producing a series of wildfire training videos for release on the Division’s Facebook page.

“This series of training videos will be a great resource for rural fire districts throughout Rhode Island, and we’re excited to make them available through Facebook,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “DEM works closely with the RI State Firefighters League and the Northeast Forest Fire Protection Commission. The valuable support and assistance these important partners give DEM enables us to provide a host of training opportunities for firefighters in our state.”

Providing wild land fire training to rural fire departments is an important goal of DEM’s Division of Forest Environment. Throughout the year, training is presented by DEM forestry personnel in the form of classroom trainings, hands-on field exercises, and now, social media. The new video project supplements the existing, and more traditional, wild land firefighting training program that is currently offered to Rhode Island’s fire departments.

The use of social media allows the Division of Forest Environment to reach a broader audience of firefighters and improve the public’s understanding of the purpose and goals of the wildfire program.

The first video is part of the Wildfire Tool Series, which is designed to give firefighters a brief introduction into tools used to fight a wild land fire.

This segment examines the Pulaski, an effective wild land fire-fighting tool that has an ax head at one end and a grubbing hoe at the other. The two-minute video features DEM principal forest ranger Ben Arnold, who demonstrates the tool in use. This video is the first of many to come, and viewers can look forward to learning about more topics related to fighting wild land fires as future videos are released.

The RI State Firefighters League was founded in 1898 for the purpose of uniting firefighters for social, educational, instructive, and legislative purposes. Today, one of the primary objectives of the League is to raise funds and award grants to provide training opportunities for RI firefighters.

The Northeast Forest Fire Protection Commission is a compact that includes the six New England states and New York; the Canadian Provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland; the National Park Service; and the White Mountain and Green Mountain National Forests. Its goal is to provide members a means to cope with wildfires through information, technology and resource-sharing activities.

To watch the first video, and for regular fire weather and fire danger updates, visit the Division of Forest Environment’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/rhodeislandwildfire.

Victoria #VIC | #SocialMedia campaign targets mistakes that cause #home #fires

Getting a badly spelt (temporary) tattoo is a #safemistake!
Getting a badly spelt (temporary) tattoo is a #safemistake!
A social media campaign targeting simple mistakes which cause house fires was launched today by Victoria’s fire services.
The Safe Mistake Zone is an online hub where people can learn about the common causes of house fires.


MFB Chief Officer Peter Rau said every day Victorian firefighters attend an average of eight preventable house fires.

“While there are literally thousands of ways a house fire can start, really they all boil down to one thing – a moment of carelessness, neglect or distraction,” he said.

“We want people to think twice before putting themselves and their homes at risk of fire.”

CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson said more people die in house fires than in bushfires – however, most fatal fires at home could be prevented.

He said last year’s campaign reached more than 3.2 million people on Facebook alone.

“Victorian firefighters attended 3,170 preventable house fires last year, with a third of them starting in the kitchen,” he said.

“The Safe Mistake Zone is an engaging and entertaining campaign that will be travelling around the state in a regional road show all winter to help spread fire safety messages.”

At today’s launch, members of the public were invited to make a safe mistake like getting a badly spelt (temporary) tattoo or posing for an embarrassing photo in the Safe Mistake Zone photo booth.

There was also an ’unsafe mistake’ tent, where people could learn about the unexpected causes of Victorian home fires – such as overheating laptops and curling wands.

Mistakes at home cause fires, visit www.safemistakezone.com.au make a safe mistake instead.

Research | Online comments influence opinions on vaccinations

Washington State University researchers staged online comments like this and found people trust Internet opinions more than public service announcements. Photo credit: Washington State University
Washington State University researchers staged online comments like this and found people trust Internet opinions more than public service announcements. Photo credit: Washington State University

With measles and other diseases once thought eradicated making a comeback in the United States, healthcare websites are on the spot to educate consumers about important health risks.

Washington State University researchers say that people may be influenced more by online comments than by credible public service announcements (PSAs).

Writing in the Journal of Advertising, WSU marketing researchers Ioannis Kareklas, Darrel Muehling and TJ Weber are the first to investigate how Internet comments from individuals whose expertise is unknown impact the way people feel about vaccines.

Their study, “Reexamining Health Messages in the Digital Age: A Fresh Look at Source Credibility Effects,” comes after a recent outbreak of measles linked to Disneyland parks in California has affected at least 100 people in the United States and Mexico.

“In the context of health advertising, few issues have concerned advertisers, researchers and consumers – especially those with young children – more than recent trends in vaccination attitudes and behaviors,” wrote Kareklas and colleagues.

Kareklas, Muehling and Weber conducted two experiments. In the first, they showed 129 participants two made-up PSAs.

Participants were led to believe that the pro-vaccination PSA was sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while the anti-vaccination PSA was sponsored by the National Vaccine Information Council (NVIC). Both PSAs were designed to look like they appeared on each organization’s respective website to enhance validity.

The PSAs were followed by comments from fictitious online commenters who either expressed pro- or anti-vaccination viewpoints. Participants weren’t told anything about who the commenters were, and unisex names were used to avoid potential gender biases.

After looking at the PSAs and comments, people responded to questionnaires that rated their likelihood to vaccinate themselves and their family members, as well as their opinions about vaccination.

Results showed participants were equally persuaded by the PSAs and the online comments.

“That kind of blew us away,” said Kareklas. “People were trusting the random online commenters just as much as the PSA itself.”

In the second experiment, participants were told the fictitious commenters were an English literature student, a lobbyist specializing in healthcare issues and a medical doctor specializing in infectious diseases and vaccinology. The researchers determined that participants found the doctor’s comments to be more impactful than the PSAs.

“We found that when both the sponsor of the PSA and the relevant expertise of the online commenters were identified, the impact of these comments on participants’ attitudes and behavioral intentions was greater than the impact of the PSA and its associated credibility,” the researchers wrote.

The study provides some valuable insight into why the anti-vaccination movement has been so persistent. As the paper points out, researchers have long known that people take word-of-mouth communications – both electronic and in person – more seriously than they do advertisements. Kareklas cited three instances in which popular press including Science, the Huffington Post and the Chicago Sun Times have banned anonymous online comments because they feel people are discrediting proven science.

“We don’t subscribe to the practice of taking down comments,” he said, “because managers would also lose credibility if they only posted positive comments.”

The researchers suggest that social advertisers must first be vigilant that their attempts to persuade are not perceived by readers as being manipulative or disingenuous. Health websites should include opposing viewpoints where relevant, but should also ensure that supportive comments are abundant, easily accessible and supported by research evidence.

“It would be advisable for some supportive comments from noted experts to be highlighted on health websites,” they said. They recommended that advertisers clearly identify the expertise of the commenter – for example, a medical doctor specializing in a related field of medicine.

Most important, the researchers said social advertisers must strive to develop online media strategies that encourage “credible online exchanges where innovative thinking facilitates collaborative problem solving and results in improving customer welfare for all parties involved.”

The article is available online at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2556998

Research | Understanding how emotions ripple on social media after terrorist acts

The 2013 Boston Marathon bombing motivated mass expressions of fear, solidarity, and sympathy toward Bostonians on social media networks around the world. In a recently released study, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Cornell University analyzed emotional reactions on Twitter in the hours and weeks following the attack. 

The study is the first large-scale analysis of fear and social-support reactions from geographically distant communities following a terrorist attack. The findings show the extent to which communities outside of Boston expressed their emotions by using hashtags such as #PrayForBoston and how those reactions correlated with geographic proximity, social-network connections, and direct ties to Boston.

The full results of the study, which have been published online in the journal EPJ Data Science, may provide insight to governmental agencies exploring how to best handle public fear following a disruptive event.

“When a community in one geographic location is attacked, it is important for government officials to be able to predict where public fears will be heightened most as a result of that attack. The findings of our study will potentially assist officials in predicting the exact manner and extent in which citizens in their own regions will react to tragic occurrences in another region of the country,” said Yu-Ru Lin, the study’s principal researcher and an assistant professor in Pitt’s School of Information Sciences. “By swiftly recognizing the heightened presence of fear as a result of occurrences elsewhere, officials within a city can respond appropriately with various measures to calm the public and reassure them that all measures are being taken to ensure public safety and well-being.”

The study is unique in that previous studies of emotional responses to terror attacks have only focused on those in directly affected areas. For the Pitt-led study, researchers analyzed more than 180 million geocoded tweets from individuals in 95 cities around the world. Researchers focused their analysis on the 60 most-populated metropolitan areas in the United States as well as the 35 highest-populated cities outside of the United States.

To study expressions of fear, Lin’s team utilized content-analysis programs to search for a predetermined set of keywords—including “fearful,” “fatal,” and “terror,”—within tweets directly related to the bombing. The study also utilized Twitter hashtags to identify tweets reflecting expressions of solidarity and sympathy. Researchers found that citizens in some cities were more likely to express specific emotions based on geography and shared experiences.

The hashtag #PrayForBoston—a variant of the #PrayFor{X} hashtags that have been used in recent years following various tragic events—was used to identify expressions of sympathy. Citizens in the city of London were modest in their expressions of fear and solidarity but were more forthcoming in their use of the #PrayForBoston hashtag. Lin and her team theorized that the greater show of sympathy from Londoners was due to the citizens of London having endured their own terrorist attacks in the recent past and therefore relating to the sense of tragedy that Boston’s citizens were enduring.

The hashtag #BostonStrong—a variant of the #{X}strong hashtags made popular by Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong motto and the U.S. Army’s “Army Strong” media campaign—was used to measure expressions of solidarity. Expressions of solidarity were used most by citizens in U.S. cities that possess close geographic proximity and have similar cultural identities as Boston. For instance, citizens in Chicago and Washington, D.C., were more likely to express emotions of solidarity due to their relative closeness in distance and personal ties with Boston.

“Our findings suggest that the immediate emotional reactions on social media are indicators of deeper feelings of connection to suffering in other communities that linger,” said Drew Margolin, Lin’s collaborator and an assistant professor of communication in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. “In the future, this may have implications for anticipating how communities will respond to shocking events beyond terrorist attacks, such as school shootings, natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, or incidents like those that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri.”

According to the study’s overall findings, the extent to which communities outside of the Boston metropolitan area expressed emotional reactions to the attack directly correlated with individuals’ geographic proximities, social network connections to Boston residents, and relationships to the city of Boston. Furthermore, reactions of fear were the most likely of sentiments to be expressed by individuals with direct ties to Boston or to Bostonians. The extent to which individuals had ties to the Boston area was the best predictor of fear and solidarity expression as well as a strong predictor of an expression of sympathy.

The paper “The ripple of fear, sympathy and solidarity during the Boston bombings” is available online in EPJ Data Science.

England | London Ambulance Service Twitter account gaining traction

For More info contact: Communications Department London Ambulance Service NHS Trust 220 Waterloo Road London SE1 8SD Phone: 020 7783 2286

London Ambulance Service’s Twitter account has been named one of best in the country, according to analysis of social media in the NHS.

The @Ldn_Ambulance account has been ranked second out of 50 NHS organisations using Twitter.

The account has 38,600 followers and is used daily to offer advice during high profile incidents, to encourage Londoners to use 999 wisely and also promote public awareness campaigns.

Communications Director Charlotte Gawne said:  “Twitter is a great way for us to talk to Londoners about what we do. It shows the huge range of calls we attend and demonstrates how highly skilled our staff are.

“Patients also use Twitter to feedback back on their experience and we know social media is another way we can be an open and transparent organisation.”

The Service was also named one of the NHS ‘stealth revolutionaries’ – an organisation with high interest and engagement with other NHS or health social media accounts.

It is now encouraging its staff to tweet about the jobs they do and has eight specialist teams and individual Twitter accounts.

The report — On the brink of SoMething Special — is the result of nine months of research and analysis of NHS social media carried out by consultancy firm JB McCrea, supported by NHS Providers.

UK | Teenager rescued off Mevagissey after asking for help on Facebook

Brixham Coastguard was contacted just before 11pm last night by police who’d taken a call from the teenager’s mum. She said he had posted on Facebook saying he was in trouble on his Laser sailing dinghy.

Mevagissey and St. Austell Coastguard Rescue Teams, the Fowey RNLI all-weather and inshore lifeboats, police and the ambulance service were sent to the area.

The man was spotted in the water by the inshore lifeboat approximately ½ mile south east of Black Head. He was pulled on board the lifeboat and taken back to Fowey. He was then transferred to Treliske hospital to be checked over.

Andy Huber, Watch Manager at Brixham Coastguard, said:

This young man was extremely lucky to be found when he was. He told rescuers that his mobile phone had got wet and he couldn’t make a 999 call to the Coastguard. However, he did manage to post something on Facebook. He also told lifeboat crews he had been in the water for 2 hours and was trying to swim back to shore, even though he did not have a buoyancy aid or lifejacket on.

We always recommend that if you’re heading out on the water that you are well equipped with the necessary communications and safety equipment. Carry a VHF radio with you, a charged mobile phone in a waterproof bag, distress flares and an emergency beacon. These will all help you alert the Coastguard if you’re in trouble, and a much more reliable way than posting for help on social media.

Arizona | Phoenix Fire Dept partners with Nextdoor to communicate with residents

The Phoenix Fire Department today is announcing a partnership with Nextdoor (nextdoor.com), the private social network for neighborhoods, to foster citywide and neighborhood-specific communications with residents.

Led by Acting Fire Chief Kara Kalkbrenner, this partnership with Nextdoor will enable the Phoenix Fire Department to use Nextdoor to help increase fire safety awareness and safety behaviors, which is especially critical as the city prepares for the arid summer months. The Department also plans to use Nextdoor to keep residents informed about pertinent information during and after emergencies or disasters.

“Phoenix is an incredibly resourceful city, and using Nextdoor to communicate with residents is another way to further our efforts in making Phoenix an even better place to call home,” said Acting Fire Chief Kalkbrenner. “While Nextdoor will be a great tool year round, we are especially glad to have another avenue to connect with residents as we enter the hottest and driest months in Phoenix.”

Nextdoor has already proven to be an essential and well-adopted tool for Phoenix residents. More than 418 neighborhoods, representing 63 percent of the neighborhoods in Phoenix, have launched Nextdoor websites.

With Nextdoor, Phoenix residents can create private neighborhood websites to share information, including neighborhood public safety issues, community events and activities, local services, and even lost pets. The Fire Department will be able to post information, such as important news, fire safety tips, services, programs, free events, and emergency notifications to Nextdoor websites within the city. More importantly, we can target specific neighborhoods for specialty messages.

Nextdoor is free for residents and the Fire Department. Each Phoenix neighborhood has its own private Nextdoor neighborhood website, accessible only to residents of that neighborhood. Neighborhoods establish and self-manage their own Nextdoor website and the Fire Department will not be able to access residents’ websites, contact information, or content. All members must verify that they live within the neighborhood before joining Nextdoor. Information shared on Nextdoor is password-protected and cannot be accessed by Google or other search engines.

Those interested in joining their neighborhood’s Nextdoor website can visit www.nextdoor.com/phoenix and enter their address. If residents have questions about their Nextdoor website, please visit help.nextdoor.com

Florida | Broward County – Ten-day social media campaign offers ways to prepare for emergencies during the holiday

Looking for a unique holiday gift idea? Consider one of the items on Broward County Emergency Management’s “Top 10” list.

Beginning Friday, November 29, @ReadyBroward, the County’s official Twitter site for emergency management information, will launch a 10-day tweet campaign sharing unique gift ideas for residents this holiday season that help residents be better prepared and self-sufficient in the immediate aftermath of a hurricane or other emergency.

“Although hurricane season ends November 30, emergency preparedness is a year-round concern,” said Chuck Lanza, director of Broward County Emergency Management.

All residents are encouraged to “follow” Broward County at Twitter.com/ReadyBroward. More than 4,000 already subscribe to this important public safety service.

In September, Broward County became one of the first organizations in Florida and the nation to participate in Twitter’s new public safety service, Twitter Alert. Twitter Alert allows subscribers to receive emergency information such as warnings for imminent dangers and evacuation instructions from vetted, credible organizations, immediately and in real time, through their traditional Twitter timeline feed, and as a special notification or text message on a mobile device. The alerts are distinguished by an orange bell and the hashtag #Alert.

The County offers other ways for residents to stay connected before, during and after an emergency:

• Like us on Facebook.com/BrowardEMD.

• Encourage family and friends to subscribe to Broward County Emergency Updates, important public safety information delivered via email.

• Visit our comprehensive emergency preparedness website at emergency.Broward.org or for hurricane information, visit Broward.org/Hurricane or Broward.org/AtRisk.

• Call the Broward County Call Center at 311, or 954-831-4000, for updates and general preparedness information.

• Bookmark gis.Broward.org/mda on your smartphone or other mobile device so you can report damage to your home and help first responders assess impacts in the immediate aftermath of a storm.

Broward County’s Emergency Management Division develops and implements comprehensive emergency planning response, mitigation and recovery activities in order to save lives and protect property in emergencies. Technical assistance is available to develop and maintain emergency plans for all types of hazards. Free training and presentations are available to the public on request. For more information, visit emergency.broward.org, follow us on Twitter.com/ReadyBroward, like us on Facebook.com/EMD or call 954-831-3900.

Kentucky | KSP using YouTube to generate leads in murder of Police Officer Jason Ellis

The Kentucky State Police (KSP) is tapping into cyberspace by using YouTube© to generate fresh leads in the murder of Bardstown Police Officer Jason Ellis.

KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer says detectives are working around the clock to solve this case and hopes this new approach will provide additional information regarding the case.

“Social media has changed the way we communicate, and increasingly, the way law enforcement investigates criminal activity,” says Brewer. “It allows us instant contact and response from a vast audience and is increasingly becoming a venue for real time reporting as events happen.”

Brewer says KSP already utilizes YouTube© through its KSP TV segments, where short videos are produced about the inner workings of the agency, training techniques and public service announcements.

“It just seems like the perfect avenue to tap new leads from a different audience,” adds Brewer.

Brewer plans to send the video out via KSP’s own social media platforms and across the state, to local and bordering state law enforcement agencies as well as local public access channels that will provide air time.

“Sometimes solving complex cases takes everyone pitching in to make sure no stone is left unturned.”

The KSP YouTube© page has received more than 56,000 views during the past year.  Coupled with a Facebook© following of more than 70,000 and a Twitter© following approaching 10,000, Brewer believes KSP can reach a larger audience.

“This is another platform that we can use to solve crimes by connecting immediately with a local, state and national audience through social media.”

To view the Officer Ellis Case video, click on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGRj8fR75JQ&feature=youtu.be

Brewer encourages the public to submit tips by contacting the KSP Elizabethtown Post at (270) 766-5078 or call the toll free KSP Tip Line at (800) 222-5555.  An email address has also been established for tips at EllisCaseETips@ky.gov.

KSP advises that the reward funds for this case have reached $185,000 for tips leading to an arrest and conviction.

England | A day in the life of an EEAST call handler


On Wednesday, October 2, East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) Media Officer Charlotte Parker, spent the day in the Health and Emergency Operations Centre (HEOC) in Chelmsford, Essex, shadowing a 999 call handler and tweeting about the calls that came in.

Here’s how the day unfolded and a selection of the tweets…

I arrive at the HEOC and I’m paired with emergency Call Handler George Locke, who has been working at EEAST for just over a year. He’s been working since 7am and the calls have been steadily coming in.

The Trust as a whole receives over 2000 calls a day, with call handlers regularly taking approximately 50 – 60 calls per shift.

The first few calls I hear are for elderly people who have fallen over. There are also a several calls from health care professional.

Our call handler is now responding to a caller whose elderly mother is suffering breathing difficulties and is confused. #EEAST999

Call received regarding an elderly woman who has collapsed. Ambulance arranged to take her to Broomfield #EEAST999

Call from doctor surgery who require a transfer to hospital for a patient, a young boy, who is in respiratory distress. #EEAST999

It’s after lunch when the calls really start to flood in and it’s just after 2.00pm when the most dramatic call of our day comes in. A woman has collapsed and is not breathing. George calmly gives the caller instructions on how to give correct CPR and counts out loud to ensure it is being done at the right pace.

Call has come in regarding someone who has collapsed and is not breathing. George is giving CPR instructions. #EEAST999

George is counting the rhythm of CPR for the caller while emergency help is on the way #EEAST999

An ambulance has now arrived at the scene so George has ended the call. Amazing how calm the call handlers stay in such situations #EEAST999

Later on in the shift we find out that the casualty had a return of spontaneous of circulation, she started breathing again, and later that afternoon was sitting up talking in hospital.

Our cardiac arrest patient from earlier is in hospital, sitting up and talking! News like this is what makes George enjoy his job #EEAST999

The calls come in back to back throughout the afternoon.

Call from a parent who is concerned that their baby has developed a rash and isn’t fully alert #EEAST999

This call is for a person in their 50s suffering severe abdominal pain. George is arranging for clinician to call the caller back #EEAST999

Now receiving a call about a diabetic who has fallen. It is not known how long he has been on the floor. #EEAST999

We speak to two people who are what is known as repeat callers. They regularly ring the ambulance service asking for help, without actually being ill.

The shift ended at 7pm, at which time another team came to take over for the twelve hour night shift.

As with any job, there are highs and lows of being an emergency call handler. George says: “My favourite ever call was the first ever childbirth I talked someone through. That was pretty special. The most difficult types of calls, and the ones everyone dreads, are paediatric cardiac arrests.

“The thing I love about the job is going home knowing that I’ve made a difference. There are not many jobs where you can go home knowing that you’ve helped to save a life.”