Monday, August 27, 2012

Fighting Fear - Sue Exline & Frank Moshbacher

"To me, fear is driven by a lack of knowledge, communication, information. And I believe that we as people can deal with anything as long as we have facts to be able to make decisions." ~ Sue Exline 
Sue Exline and Frank Moshbacher were both born in Los Angeles, California, and have worked in natural resource management for over 30 years. During 1988, both worked as fire information officers, Frank with Rick Gale's Area Command Team in West Yellowstone and Sue with a Type I Incident Command Team on the Clover-Mist Fire that burned near the communities of Silver Gate and Cook City. They share their reflections with our public information officers and leaders on managing fear during a crisis.

Tips and Suggestions:
  • Assign roles to explain the facts.
  • It's okay to show vulnerability.
  • Show that you care.
Fireline Leadership Challenge:

Using the suggestions provided by Frank and Sue, discuss with your fire organization how you will deal with the fear and gossip that are the inevitable by-y-products of large fire events. Begin with these questions:
  • Are you prepared to quickly get the facts out to the public?
  • Have you thought through what a "transparent" decision making process might look like?
  • Do you have a plan in place, understood by all, of how to disseminate critical factual information?
Then, before an extraordinary fire event occurs on your unit, increase your resilience by practicing the process you have just developed. "Practice makes perfect."


Thanks to the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center for this contribution.

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