A case study of media perception and decision-making in the Jefferson County, AL Dursban Study

by Leslie Patton, Kimberly, Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2000, 286 pages; 3440250


Every crisis provides challenges to and opportunities for those affected. To assist communities in preparedness, response, and recovery during crisis, responding agencies, mutual aid responders, and the media must cooperate and collaborate. Despite these critical requirements, it is always difficult during crisis to establish collaboration between local disaster response agencies and the media because of their distinct roles. This case study examined the Jefferson County, Alabama Dursban crisis, the largest uncontrolled release of this chemical ever recorded by the manufacturer, Dow Chemical. The Dursban crisis included the largest fire in the history of Birmingham. This four-alarm fire burned for five days and released, through fire control run-off, massive amounts of stored pesticides into local water environmental systems. Government agencies involved in responding were criticized for their management of the crisis by the media, and extensive, negative coverage ensued. Although no human life was lost, the Dursban crisis resulted in the media's questioning local agency response efforts. The case study included surveys and interviews with involved local government managers and a review of local newspaper articles and related documents. The study forms a baseline for analyzing improvements in the community's emergency response systems. Findings and conclusions from this study were used to develop recommendations and tools for managers assessing decision making before, during and after a crisis.

AdviserSybil McClary
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsManagement; Public health; Organizational behavior
Publication Number3440250

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