I5 Bridge Collapse Public Information, Part One

skagitI’ve had the distinct pleasure of being friends with Marcus Deyerin for a few years now. In just one of his jobs, Marcus works as the public information officer for the Northwest Washington Incident Management Team. If you followed the news last week, you’ll know that he had a pretty important job last week, especially after the 1-5 bridge over the Skagit River collapsed.

Marcus was assigned to be the PIO for the rescue portion of the operation and the first thing he did was post this on his Blackberry:


Just three minutes later:


And that began an amazing night of using social media to provide updates on a rapidly changing situation:




I’ll bet you’re wondering why didn’t he just release this information to the media and let them fulfill the role they usually do? Because of this:


Cell networks were down from everyone in the area being on their phones! Tell me you don’t foresee that happening in your emergency. As the cell networks calmed down, Marcus was able to get back on the phone and support the news organizations, but didn’t forget about the social media aspect:


He kept up updates for more than six hours that night. Through rescues and press briefings. This was a model social media operation.

What amazed me was how much the public was looking for this information. I noticed, on his first tweet that evening, that Marcus had 380 followers. By the next morning, after just an hour-long rescue operation, his followers had nearly doubled to nearly 700. Every one of his tweets was retweeted between five and ten times. And this was from a personal account!

I’ve asked Marcus if he could write something about his experience for posting this week, and depending on NWIMT, we should have a super series of posts. Keep an eye on this space for the latest!


2 thoughts on “I5 Bridge Collapse Public Information, Part One

  1. This is very cool! Sign of the times…I’ve started looking at Twitter as my first source of information in recent months. If I hear anything is going on, Twitter is the first thing I pull up because I have all my news sources giving me snips of information I can digest quickly. And lately, because I check Twitter regularly, it has been the first thing to alert me to several other disasters. Things have changed and I’m actually expecting news from it.

    1. I can’t even count the number of disasters, emergencies and events that I’ve been first alerted to on social media anymore. I wonder what it means for the future of the service, though. As it gets more popular, is it going to run into the same problem of spam and sponsored posts and crap that older social networks (ahem, Facebook) has, or will it retain it’s ability to function as a breaking news source.

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