J3.3 Building Inter-Professional Relationships to Create a Weather Ready Nation - Thoughts of an Emergency Manager Turned NWS Forecaster

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 4:00 PM
Room 255/257 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
David Schlotzhauer, NOAA/NWS, Slidell, LA

The responsibilities of the National Weather Service (NWS) are supported by highly technical, scientific fields, e.g. meteorology and hydrology. Traditionally, the NWS has conveyed information using language stemming from that technical/scientific position. With the advent of the Weather Ready Nation (WRN) concept (NWS, 2013) this style of communication is changing, especially with respect to Impact-based Decision Support Service (IDSS). Many of the key concepts in the (NWS) Weather Ready Nation Roadmap (NWS, 2013) explicitly require communication and imply relationship building to be successful. Examples lie in words such as “consultation,” “communicate,” “integration,” “comprehensible,” and “support.” This presentation will address the concept and importance of inter-professional communication as it relates to achieving the goals of the Weather Ready Nation and especially IDSS.

As an emergency manager who is now a NWS forecaster, I have worked on both sides of the fence and understand the requirements and needs and strengths and limitations of communications between the NWS and its partners and customers. The use of highly technical, scientific work in the fields of meteorology and hydrology is a necessary first step to the NWS achieving its mission. Now though, especially with the goal of a Weather Ready Nation and IDSS, the NWS must evaluate how it communicates with its partners and customers and learn to speak their language. For example, one goal named in the WRN Roadmap is “more complete integration into the National Incident Management System” (NIMS). The NIMS framework has a requirement to use plain language, or conversely, use no codes or jargon. However, there are some NWS concepts that still must be conveyed using technical weather jargon. The path to overcoming this disconnect lies with talking as much and often as possible with partners/customers. This leads to all parties understanding capabilities, needs, and most importantly the languages spoken by the different professions.

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