A Rockville, Maryland, company had started a project to study the problems people have actually had while communicating with each other during a crisis such as a vehicle accident, a fire, or a police incident. The principal investigator (PI) had already designed a questionnaire for first responders and accident victims and had begun distributing the questionnaire to associate researchers in three cities across the United States. The PI then asked Keystone Research Solutions for analytic help.
We quickly offered to put the questionnaire online in two formats. The first format was open to random responses from anyone on the Web. The second format was restricted to only those who received an username and password from the PI. In addition to the responses from the online questionnaire, Keystone Research Solutions also received the responses from the distributed printed questionnaire. From our analysis of all the responses, we developed a theoretical model of interpersonal communication problems during an emergency situation from the point of view of those directly involved.
We wrote two reports for the PI. As you might expect, a majority of the communication problems originated in language barriers. This led immediately to wondering about the remainder of the problems, and some of those were interesting. The PI included one of our reports in their document, "Communication Challenges During Delivery of Emergency Services: Is There a Problem?"