Managing Change: Looking at Change and Social Media

What is change?  What causes change? Who likes change? Where does change come from?  Lots of questions and lots of different answers.  From time time on this blog  I will try to address change.

What is Change?

Change is anything that transforms the status quo.  In EMS change is on-going and occurs frequently. Protocols, equipment, patient’s medical emergencies, providers changing careers, safety, and Social Media are a few examples that EMS leaders and providers face.  There are a few stages of change that we face in EMS.  Is there a compelling need or emergency to make a change?  Is the situation is a mass causality (insert your own emergency) event.  Is the event evolving and the situation changing quickly. How your EMS organization responds at the scene and on Social Media will be looked at closely.  You don’t have to look too far to see how Social Media (Facebook and Twitter) has changed the landscape not just for EMS, but for public safety in general.  Leaders have to weigh the pros and cons about whether to send a tweet or post on Facebook about on-going situation.

This brings us to the second stage: Struggle. To post or tweet or Not to post or tweet. What harm could be caused? The post or tweet may cause panic and make the situation more volatile. What if the wrong message is sent or there is a miscommunication?  What good could occur? The post and tweet can get a message out fast. Maybe the message is to shelter in place, report of a missing person, or to warn the public to stay away from a certain area. These are some questions that may come to mind. There is thirst for information and the public as well as journalists turn to Social Media for their information and sources. Leaders are all probably struggling with the decision when and how to use Social Media.

I don’t have the answer about when to post or tweet.  I struggle as a Chief making that decision on our Social Media Sites as well as our staff’s Facebook Pages (I am friends with many of my employees, which I know gives other Chiefs and leaders heartburn).  Our policy states that if one of our staff members is posting and our name is mentioned or in a picture, the post or tweet has to be professional, not political and must be in good taste.  Since our policy has been in place for 3 years, I have asked few employees to take down their posts.  I explain my rationale and each time the employee has understood my reasoning and has removed the post.

Social Media has been a struggle and a difficult change for this Chief (texting is another topic), but with education and a strong policy in place, the change has been positive.

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