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Assessment of communication needs for emergency management officials in high-consequence emergencies

Pamela McCauley-Bush, PhD, Mohammad Jeelani, BS, MS, Susan Gaines, BS, MS, Llewelyn Curling, PhD, Philip Armbrister, BS, MS, Arturo Watlington, BS, MS, Renaldo Major, BS, Lorneska Rolle, BS, Sarah Cohen, BS


Objective: To identify the communication needs for Bahamian emergency management officials using wireless technology to support emergency-related activities.
Design: This study began with literature review, a focus group interview, and a paper-based survey of emergency management officials.
Setting: Focus group interview was held at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) office in Nassau, Bahamas, with subject matter experts (SMEs). A survey was conducted in which 31 Bahamian emergency management officials had participated. Data were compiled and analyzed at the University of Central Florida (UCF).
Subjects and participants: A focus group consisting of 14 SMEs representing NEMA, emergency support functions, and affiliated organizations. Thirty-one Bahamian emergency management officials including 14 SMEs participated in the survey.
Interventions: Professors at the College of The Bahamas and UCF read and gave input at each phase of the study, as well as final review in the form of thesis defense at UCF.
Main outcome measures: A list of communication needs for emergency management officials in high-consequence emergency management situations was compiled.
Results: Identified communication needs include an improved wireless communication infrastructure, official implementation of wireless devices for use in emergencies, and devices with improved durability, usability, and functionality.
Conclusions: The surveys and interviews with officials proved to be an effective technique for identifying user problems, difficulties, and preferences with wireless handheld communication devices and telecommunication systems. This methodology can be used to identify the communication needs for emergency management officials around the globe.


communication, disaster response, emergency management, cellular phones, usability, humancentered, wireless communication, human factors

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