Tips for PIOs: Juice

philly_collapse_AP13060513697_620x350A couple of weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure and honor of hosting PIO Marcus Deyerin’s personal after-action from the Skagit Bridge Collapse. Marcus’s very first “Quick Tip to Remember” dealt with power:

Back-up power was critical. I’ve carried around a NewTrent 12KmAh backup charger in my PIO bag for several months, and used it a couple times prior, but this is the first time it seriously saved my bacon. I recharged my phone from near dead 3 times over the course of my involvement during the response. It’s worth every penny. [There are certainly other brands/models out there – this is just the one I have]

I loved this tip, because I carry something similar around and it has come in handy more times than I can count. Saved my bacon is exactly right. I wanted to call more attention to this excellent tip, but it stood very well with the rest of Marcus’s posts.

Yesterday, though, in the aftermath of a devastating tragedy in Philly, it became an issue again. Yesterday morning, a building being demolished collapsed unexpectedly into an occupied building. Thirteen people were rescued and, as of my writing this, at least two were found dead.

(As an aside, I ran my Health Department’s social media presence during the rescue and recovery operations–from the Raleigh-Durham airport–using nothing more than my personal phone, a Geofeedia search, and my personal Twitter media lists.)

Yesterday evening, as I continued to monitor the situation, I saw the first confirmation on Twitter of what sounded an awful lot like a body being found.

I headed over to the reporter’s Twitter feed to see if I could learn more and saw this tweet sent just minutes later:

She had a scoop and was rapidly losing juice, losing power in her phone. If only she’d seen Marcus’s quick tip about having a battery back-up.

I think eventually she found power because she continued posting for several more hours, offering detailed descriptions of what ultimately was a recovery mission.

My tip to you–whoever you are working in communications, public information, reputation management, social media, public relations–is this: buy one of these battery packs for your phone (Lifehacker recently did a best five comparison of them, so if you want to shop around, do so) and carry it with you at all times. You never know when you’ll need more juice.

(Personal note: This is a terrible, tragic situation. I go to bed tonight with a heavy heart. I knew that Salvation Army and had shopped there more than a few times. I know the good work that the people there did. Today was hard, and my only hope is that my work helped someone somewhere cope, comprehend or just see the valiant efforts of Philly’s finest and bravest.)

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4 thoughts on “Tips for PIOs: Juice

  1. Thanks for this important preparedness tip. And for your first hand report on this tragedy. Important to see news stories thru local viewpoint. “All disasters are local they begin and end that way.”

  2. I’m following the story from Nashville. Being from Philly I know the area well. Regarding battery backups; after I read Marcus’ earlier report I forgot I had an Eveready backup unit for all of my devices not just my phone. I immediately put it into my backpack. 2 days later I responded to a house fire as a member of the American Red Cross DAT team where my phone started to die during the process of trying to find lodging for the displaced family. The battery backup saved my hide. Thanks Marcus, and thanks Jim for continuing this important conversation.

    As for the tragedy in Philadelphia, we should be thankful for a few things, 1- fire dept. response was very fast with the first due companies’ station located just 1 block away. 2- the fire dept. has an excellent Special Operations Command trained especially for incidents like these requiring technical rescue. 3- the fire dept. manages PA TF-1 (FEMAs Urban Search & Rescue Team) so their cache of equipment is local and can supplement the fire dept’s resources. Undoubtedly the expertise of the personnel and available resources helped minimize the impact of this awful situation.

    1. Andy, you are so right on all of your points. PFD did an amazing job in a terrifying situation. And I know that Marcus will be excited to know that his posts helped you out. You never know when you’ll need power–we should actually probably rephrase that as, “You can never have enough power on a response scene.”

      Hope things are well, and can’t wait to see you again soon!

  3. Great point on the power- at first I thought you were going to talk about being properly hydrated before speaking on camera- cotton mouth on camera is a preventable affliction- or the prevalence of limewater in the television coverage yesterday (Greg Masi and the Phila. Second Alarmers are lifesavers and the hardest working volunteers in Phila. that few know about outside the emergency services community).
    I keep a backup battery with my laptop bag for work- now I gotta get one for my turnout gear.
    A few takeaways from what I saw on TV yesterday-

    1- Trust your PIO- let them do the detail talking points and handle the question choices. The Mayor was far too combative or frazzled and needed an experienced media communicator to run the press conferences.
    2- Get an expert to discuss tactics and equipment at some point in time. I’m constantly amazed how Ayres has done so many of these interviews and has not improved his skills at all.
    3- I applaud Nutter for trying to cut down on speculative questions, but he really shouldn’t be scolding journalists like children for trying to get information. Yeah, there were dumb questions, but they often are the result of a lack of solid information.
    4- PPD had a good flow of info on twitter- PFD had none. They missed a golden opportunity to inform and educate about the special operations command units and the nature of collapse work. I’ve never understood why an organization as good as they are does so little to educate on what and how they do.

    Great stuff as always- I vote for more posts! Loved last week’s bridge recaps- learned a great deal from them.

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