In the news: Patrick Tissington

August 27, 2004

The third anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US is little more than two weeks away, but it was only last month that the Government published advice on how to survive a similar atrocity or major emergency in Britain.

Patrick Tissingston, a lecturer in work psychology at Aston Business School in Birmingham, is investigating the impact of the £8.3 million campaign that will see the 22-page booklet, available in 16 languages, sent to 25 million homes.

Preparing for Emergencies: What You Need to Know advises on how to cope with emergencies, ranging from a household fire to a dirty bomb attack, and carries tips on preventing terrorism as well as details of the action taken by the Government to improve security. It is the first such information leaflet produced since 1980, when Protect and Survive offered advice on surviving a nuclear attack. This was accused of stating the blindingly obvious and critics have said the same of the latest "Go in, stay in, tune in" guidance.

Dr Tissingston has set up a website to gauge response to the campaign, and will be organising a series of TV ads. But he is sceptical, saying: "When we do not know what sort of emergency we are meant to be preparing for, it is difficult to know what to do. The booklet contains commonsense advice, but it seems unlikely many people will keep it." He added that many people may mistake it for junk mail and bin it.

The website invites people to log on to give their views on the campaign, say what they have done with the booklet and how they have responded to it.

Dr Tissington's record includes research on how the public responds to fire safety advice for the fire service, consultancy to several major companies on human resource matters, and delivering training on subjects such "Preparing for disaster - the human factor in emergencies".

Survey details: www.abs.aston.ac.uk/emergencies/

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