When is a threat, not a threat? (10/25/06)
posted by Joseph Simonovich, LiveProcess, MarCom Manager
For just a moment, let's turn back the clock and pretend it's October 18, 2000.
Early that morning someone stumbles upon a posting on an Internet message board that threatens to detonate "dirty bombs" at several NFL games that weekend.
What happens next?
Because of the number of people involved, the FBI is notified almost immediately. There is a thorough investigation to determine the credibility of the message.
Within a few hours, the FBI determines the message is a hoax. The American public is then made aware of what happened, possibly in a small mention of the event on their local news.
Now go back to last Wednesday - October 18, 2006.
A 20-year-old grocery-store worker from Wisconsin "blogged" this exact threat ("dirty bombs" at several NFL games that weekend).
What happened next?
Within a matter of minutes of this discovery, I received "Breaking News Alerts" from FoxNews and CNN, and countless emails from concerned friends and family to make sure I was aware of this "nuclear threat" (the New York Jets, a team that I am a season ticket holder for, play at a stadium mentioned in the threat).
Only three hours after this threat was discovered, and reported by news organizations throughout the world, it was dismissed as a hoax.
I am still unsure how I feel about the idea of everything that happens being reported as news, whether or not it turns out to be factual. Even more importantly - how should we react to these things?
Something like the scenario mentioned above can set so many things into action. If a stadium in your area is mentioned, when do you decide to put your emergency plan into action? What if the event the threat is against is only hours away, or even in progress?
In the post-9/11 world we live in, I can see why this type of thing spreads so fast. As a health care employee, involved with emergency preparedness, you are well aware of what type of action takes place in an event like this one - and hopefully you are prepared to respond to whatever news may break next, whether credible or not.
Did your facility take any steps to respond to this threat? We'd like to know. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.