Emergencies and the Media

How should you deal with media at the site of a university emergency?

It goes without saying - the safety of students, faculty, staff and all beings in the area of danger comes first. Regardless of what the media may be asking of you at that moment, if you can aid in the safety of the area, that is your first and only responsibility.

Once key safety issues have been dealt with, your next step is to contact Public Safety (227-2151) or 911.

Remember, you are not the official spokesperson for the university. That detail can sometimes get lost in the confusion of the situation in the case of an emergency where media are on the scene before the Public Safety director, the NMU president or the president's designated spokesperson. If you have media requests prior to the official university spokesperson being on the scene, tell the media person that Public Safety and the President's Office have been informed of the situation and that a spokesperson is en route.

To protect privacy and liability issues, do not provide the media with names, numbers or types of injuries/fatalities/demands or any other specific details of the situation. The official spokesperson will make those announcements once specific details have been verified. You can also let media members know that all emergency messages are available online at www.nmu.edu/emergency.

The best message that you can help to distribute in the time of a university emergency is that of order and control. The university has a well-organized, detailed crisis management plan. Individual departments have emergency plans.

It is dangerous for any university community to think that there will never be a crisis - accidental or intentional - on its campus. Be prepared to deal with a state of emergency. Know the key elements of your departmental emergency plan, in particular how to evacuate your area and how to be execute a "shelter in place" situation.

If you have any questions about dealing with the media during a university emergency, contact Mike Bath, director of public safety at 227-2151 or psps@nmu.edu, or the University Marketing and Communications Office at 227-2720 or commark@nmu.edu.