The Chilean copper mine collapsed on 5th of August 2010 about a half a mile below the surface of the earth. This event was aired on almost all the major stations across the world. Many people also came to take part in the rescue mission. The communication and coverage of the incident was done in the best way possible.
It is important to note that such an incident evoked the need for better physical and emotional health needs for the spouses, partners, parents, siblings and children of the miners among other relatives, MetalBulletin.com (2010). This was necessary to ensure that the rescue was sustained in terms of emotional resilience.
When there is a disaster, someone has to deliver the bad news to the family and relatives of the loved one involved. The saddest part is, not knowing how to do it. It is very difficult and must have been hard for the mining companies to inform the families of the 33 miners that their loved ones had been trapped in a collapsed mine over 1,100 feet below the surface of the earth!
There have been incidences where miners have been trapped in mine but all those could not be a preparation enough for what happened in Chilean mines in August of 2010 (MetalBulletin.com 2010).
Face to face delivery of the message is the best for the family members and relatives because of the amount of humanely touch it can have on the recipient of the information. Delivery of the sad news is not an easy job but delivering this news in a wrong way can be disastrous therefore it was pertinent for the mining companies to prepare best approaches for breaking the sad news.
The persons to deliver the message should work through their own emotions and ensure they are well adjusted to them since bad news impact equally on them as well.
The persons should practice what to say to the family. This way, they will be able to formulate the words they will love to say and remain relevant and emotionally supportive. Assessing the recipient of the bad news feeling before the message is delivered is very important.
This is because it helps to set the right response mood and the messenger should focus on good communication and show empathy (Mast et al., 2005, p. 245). After the message is delivered, there needs to be a strategy of dealing with or handling the news like the next response. This helps the receiver to avoid getting into shock or paralysis. They can also cope well based on the strategy after the news.
Draft message: Since I believe that the appropriate message to deliver to families should be face-to-face, the persons delivering the message will give different messages for the 33 people trapped. However a draft of the basic message for the family members based on the person to receive it first can be like;
‘Dear Mr./Mrs./ we regret to inform you that your husband/sibling/father/boyfriend has been trapped in one of our mines which unfortunately collapsed. We would like to tell you that the company is doing the best it can to rescue your loved one.
We have put our best rescue men and technology ahead for the operation and meanwhile we ask you to be strong sensitively and pray. We are arranging on how to make contact with the men and you will be able to communicate with him as soon as we are able to make communication possible. We will keep you posted with details, kind regards…”
As for the company employees, the message should be delivered as an internal memo. “To all our staff,
We have had an unfortunate incident at one of our mines where 33 of our employees have been trapped 1,100 feet below the surface following a collapsed mine. The team is facing a probable 4 months stay below the earth’s surface before rescue. We hope rescue will be soon.
We are however preparing on how we can get food, water and oxygen to these men as well as link to them by a good communication means so that we can be updated about their condition. We urge all of you to contribute your support, your strengths, to help the rescue mission. Be strong for the public and families of the trapped individuals…”
When a loved one is in danger that poses a risk to his or her life, the family and the work colleges suffer emotional reactions that can be traumatic. The needs of the people receiving the message of the trapped Chilean must have been mainly emotional support. These miners were friends, fathers, husbands, boyfriends, and just colleagues.
The trapped miners used to eat, laugh, work, and interact with all these types of audiences – their colleagues and family. Getting a message to them would definitely cause an eruption of emotions. It requires team effort for the rest of the employees and company management to ensure the message is delivered in the best possible manner to each person in the company and to the families of the trapped men.
Just as the police usually do when one of them dies in line of duty, someone from the department, probably the chaplain and not the partner of the diseased steps up to acknowledge a colleague and to pass the message. The same way, this information was to be passed on to the families of the trapped Chilean miners.
The physical and psychological needs have to be addressed and there should be an emotional support team of doctors to be on the lookout for any signs of emotional health issues.
The stress reaction from among the families and colleagues could increase when they realize they will have to wait for much longer to see their loved ones and workmates.
Besides, the rescue itself was a high risk job where the persons were to be hauled up through a tunnel and in a capsule. They could show stress symptoms like high blood pressure, anxiety, elevated heart rate, and fear of uncertainty (Mast et al., 2005, p. 245).
These could escalate into stress, depression, irritability, churning, and aggression. The risk of this can be identified easily when the affected individuals do not eat, drink, talk, or fail to take care of themselves, become hysterical, crying and screaming. Therefore emotional or psychological support is worthwhile in a situation where the victims can be taken through the process of acceptance of the reality and to the coping, where they learn how to deal with the situation (Mast et al., 2005, p. 248).
Getting the message of the trapped Chileans to their families must have been one of the hardest things to do for the mining companies and the government. This is because the possibility of death occurring is not a subject that many people would want to discuss a lot yet it is a reality of life. Whereas the risk of losing a loved one is real in such situations, it is important for one to have hope and perhaps physical and emotional strength to cope.
When the news reaches the families, they are under intense pressure to cope with the situation filled with anxiety yet they may not be prepared emotionally to handle. A strategy of message deliver, coping and moving on is pertinent for survival.
Mast, M. S., Kindlimann, A., & Langewitz, W. (2005). Recipients’ Perspective on Breaking Bad News: How You Put It Really Makes A Difference. Patient Education and Counselling, 58(3), 244-251
MetalBulletin.com. (2010). Over 30 Workers Trapped after Chilean Copper Mine Collapse. Retrieved August 05, 2011, from http://www.metalbulletin.com/Article/2648163/Over-30-workers-trapped-after-Chilean-copper-mine-collapse.html