Background: Effective communication and timely information exchange during disasters and emergencies can help the responsive organizations prepare better and react rapidly and effectively in order to mitigate losses and casualties.
Objectives: This study summarizes the experiences of experts at Iran’s Relief and Rescue Organization and Emergency Organization with regard to how communication and information exchange contributed in response to the past disasters.
Methods: The content analysis approach was used in this qualitative study. The statistical population included the operational managers and employees of Iran’s Relief and Rescue Organization and Emergency Organization from different provinces with various in managerial and field work's experiences at high, middle, and operational levels as well as experiences with local, provincial, regional, national, and international disasters. The purposive sampling method was employed to collect data through semi-structured interviews with 24 participants. Data analysis was performed in MAXQDA 12.
Results: The results of analyzing the interviews extracted a main theme of communication and information exchange with two categories. The first category was identified as intra-organizational communication and information exchange with seven subcategories called organizational individuals and departments, communication channels, communication model, message content, purpose of communication, standards and instructions, and challenges. The second category was identified as inter-organizational communication and information exchange with six subcategories called organizational individuals and departments, communication channels, communication model, message content, purpose of communication, and challenges.
Conclusion: The participants believed that there were limited horizontal communications and information exchange between Iran’s Relief and Rescue Organization and Iran’s Emergency Organization at the same level via fixed phones, mobile phones, and wireless radios in response to disasters. Therefore, disturbance to accurate timely communication and information exchange between organizations, especially in the first 24 hours of a disaster and lack of inter-organizational agreements and communication infrastructure result in the further vulnerability of victims, Red Crescent rescuers, and emergency technicians.
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