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Public risk managers confront emerging exposures

Public risk managers confront emerging exposures

INDIANAPOLIS — Social media and the increasing deployment of Narcan to first responders are among the many newer challenges facing public risk managers, panel speakers said Monday at the Public Risk Management Association’s annual conference in Indianapolis.

Public entities differ in how they administer naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan and others, which is a compound used to block the effects of opioids, especially in overdose, and the amount of related training for first responders.

“Our entity provides Narcan to all of our law enforcement,” said Charity Clark, risk and safety manager for Forsyth County, Georgia. “They are all equipped with Narcan and deploy it, unfortunately, on a pretty regular basis,” she said, adding that this is due at least in part to soaring levels of opioid use and abuse in the region.

Forsyth County personnel involved in the deployment of Narcan all undergo one hour of Narcan-specific training, Ms. Clark said.

“We in the city of Jeffersonville — our police, fire and EMS — do administer Narcan,” said Amir Mousavi, safety manager for the City of Jeffersonville, Indiana. “All have attended training for that.”

The compound is handled differently elsewhere, however.

“Our police officers do not utilize it,” said Dean Coughenour, risk manager for the City of Flagstaff, Arizona. “Our fire response does administer Narcan, but only under the direction of a medical supervisor.”

Social media presents yet another more recent exposure with which public risk managers must contend, and they take different approaches.

“We do have a very basic policy,” Mr. Mousavi said. “The city does allow each department to have a Facebook page and Twitter account, but they have to be controlled very tightly with what is being posted,” which includes mainly events.

Police and fire officials do have the authority to post emergency messages, but even these are usually reviewed by a city attorney, Mr. Mousavi said.

“We do have a social media policy,” Ms. Clark said. “In the past year or two, we got a Facebook page,” which is monitored by the communications department.

Forsyth County mainly posts events, Ms. Clark said, and does not allow the public to post comments.

Flagstaff now has a policy under development, Mr. Coughenour said.

“We do have a social media policy. It is quite extensive,” said Robin Entrekin, director of risk management and human resources for the City of Clinton, South Carolina.

“We do allow the public to post comments on our city website,” Mr. Entrekin said. This is done, he said, to gauge public opinions, “to let us know what they think” are hot topics.

Some departments are more active than others, according to the panel.

“Our sheriff’s office is very active and uses it to disseminate a lot of information and has been very successful,” Ms. Clark said, even helping to apprehend suspects.

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