How should we communicate with the victims of natural disasters?

Pointing out the importance of the correct communication with the victims in natural disasters such as earthquakes, Public Health Specialist Prof. Haydar Sur said that a meticulous communication must be provided, trust must be ensured and correct information must be provided in right time by noting that communication with victims and the injured is often carried out by the officials via phone.

Dean of Üsküdar University Faculty of Medicine Prof. Haydar Sur advised on communication with the victims of natural disasters.

It was be paid attention to be attentive

Stating that reaching out to the victims of the naturals disasters via phone are often carried out by the officials, Prof. Haydar Sur said, “It is a crucial mistake not to behave attentively by thinking ‘they are not seeing me anyway’ in this kind of communication. The posture and mood of the person reflects on their voice even though they are on the phone and even, the person on the other line would understand our attitude through these reflections. To help, it is vital that these people’s trust for us must not be disrupted in any way. Besides word choice during communication via phone, tone of our voice, volume of our voice and whether we give a chance to other part to speak, pace of our talking must be friendly and purposeful.”.

We must be aware of the obstacles to occur in communication

Referring to the communication obstacles that may arise in disaster situations such as earthquakes, Sur said, "People serving disaster victims have to be aware of the communication obstacles that may occur and do everything they can to overcome them.".

Various factors can hinder communication

Public Health Specialist Prof. Haydar Sur stated that there may be some obstacles in communication in disaster situations. Prof. Haydar Sur noted that these obstacles may be such as cultural differences between professionals and service recipients, obstacles such as lack of education, and physical obstacles such geographical distances when people sometimes need to travel to access services. Other obstacles were language barriers, obstacles created by the inability of the victim to focus after severe physical or emotional trauma, and disabilities caused by injury.

Those providing service have some obligations

Prof. Haydar Sur stated that the people serving the victims have some obligations for the most accurate communication and said, "People serving the victims are obliged to build the relationship on trust in order to understand and overcome communication barriers, to reach an effective assessment by observing and asking questions."

Communication based on trust should be established

Prof. Haydar Sur stated that the experience of coming out of disasters with great losses or being a victim of crime can leave effects that will turn every aspect of the rest of life into chaos and disturbance and Prof. Sure said, "A common feeling reported by victims after a crime is to lose control. Due to the fact that victims have no control over their victimization, this sense of helplessness can persist in other areas of their lives and create suspicion and distrust towards other people and the criminal or juvenile justice system in general. It is important for victims to start regaining control of their lives and develop trusting relationships with people who can help them cope with the problems they are experiencing.".

A respond must be provided

Public health expert Prof. Haydar Sur emphasized that having good information and being able to provide useful, relevant resources to victims is of great importance in building trust and Prof. Sure stated that "If we can provide timely and accurate information, we must do it. If such information cannot be provided at the time of communication, we must inform the person that we will try to obtain it within a certain period of time and return to them, and we must do so.".

Üsküdar News Agency (ÜNA)