Here, the anger of people is misplaced due to the popular perception of government servants. Once people witness self-abnegation, dedication, and courage in the rescue work they will start cooperating.
My response to such a situation
- The safety of the public, as well as the official, is the first priority. Considering the injury of the official, he/she can be sent back for the treatment, but calling off the operation is out of the question.
- I will try to reduce public anger by convincing them to cooperate. For this, I will talk with the community elders and tell them the reason for the delay and will promise to provide all assistance.
- Once the community members are convinced and the team of officials is safe, then the operation can be continued. This will require my indulgence too.
- I will start the basic operation which requires urgent implementation, starting with transferring the affected to a safe place and providing them with basic items like food, water, medicine, clothes, etc.
- A backup team containing professional disaster management experts will be sought as fast as possible. Till the weather improves, I along with the officials will stay with the community for taking care of the needs as well as a symbolic gesture of support.
Qualities required to effectively manage such a situation
- Spirit of service: Since the rescue team is vulnerable to physical and verbal attacks, only some higher cause can help an officer in composed and coordinated rescue work.
- Leadership: In such circumstances, the finality of any decision lies completely on the wisdom of the leader.He/She also needs to lead the team from the front; displaying personal courage and conviction.
- Empathy and Emotional Intelligence: An officer needs to have empathy and emotional intelligence for understanding the behavior of disgruntled local people otherwise one may abort the relief mission or resort to using of force-which will only heighten their anger.
- Power of persuasion: People seething with anger are reactive and short-sighted, making them agree for something requires the power of persuasion.
- Patience and Presence of mind: A Public Servant can not afford to make spontaneous decisions in such situations. Any further course of action should be guided by considerate assessment and swift thinking.
Leaving thousands unattended because of public anger, when they are completely dependent on government help, would be an act of timidity and self-preservation which is unbecoming of a public servant.
We need to have a sensitivity to the situation and not blame people for their reactions. Empathy and support is the key to rescue people in problems.