On the Rescue of the Chilean Miners | Brian McDaniel

As I write this, the world watches as teams rescue 33 men trapped in a mine near Copiapo, Chile. The first man, Florencio Avalos, emerged shortly after midnight local time.

Having grown up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, my community suffered through the Jim Walter’s Mine No. 5 near Brookwood nearly a decade ago. I cannot imagine how the families have coped in the last 69 days. I am grateful for their safe rescue, and for the people instrumental in the rescue operation.

As a communication professional, I think it is important to tip my hat to my colleagues  in Chile. I do not know who they are or who consulted them, but it is—without a doubt—the best comprehensive communication plan I have ever seen executed. I believe their work was better than the communication team of the First Iraqi War in 1992.

In the coming days, I will focus more closely on their work. For now, here are a few thoughts.

President Sebastián Piñera

Although the Chilean President spoke only Spanish, his demeanor and approach was comforting and reassuring to anyone who saw him. I have no idea how his fellow countrymen view him, but Piñera made me believe that the situation was under control and being managed professionally.

Domestic Chilean Press Coverage

On their website homepage, La Tercera took interactive news coverage to a new level. The site not only had streaming video from @laterceratv, but also a Flash graphic of where the miners were in the process from the mine to the medical camp to helicopter transportation to the hospital.

I also appreciated the fact that when each of the miners came from the shaft, La Tercera posted a photograph and biography of each miner in the order of their rescue.

The Joint Information System

At the mine itself, the Joint Information System (JIS) was superb. They had video cameras everywhere to feed the Beast that is the 24/7 News Cycle. From the raw feed, I could hear technicians and rescuers discussing the process. And as Jonathan Bernstein pointed out to me on Twitter, the communication team even “prepping a ‘trapped miner’ spokesperson while he was still trapped!”

Grade: A+

Let me be clear: I write this as the rescue continues. We do not know what may happen in the hours ahead, and I only can pray they will be fine. My grade is for the communication effort so far. I’ll revise myself in the next day or so once we have a clearer picture of the entire story.

I haven’t been following the communications part of this response that much due to how amazed I am at the technical response. Mr. McDaniel’s grading seems to be what just about everyone else is saying, too.

Now that I think about it, the reason I haven’t been focused on the communications aspect is because it’s been invisible. If I needed info, it was there, in whatever form I wanted and whenever I desired it. Thinking of it that way, I might just agree with Mr. McDaniel.