Social media can come in handy during emergencies. It’s a fast and easy way to reach millions of people at once, from a government standpoint – and it’s also one of the few ways TO communicate when other traditional forms of communication aren’t available.
And from a “you and me” perspective, tweets can save your life. Tweets saved a carjacking victim in South Africa and now we’re about to tell you about how a tweet saved an entire Kindergarten class caught in a tsunami.
The Japanese have even been trying out Twitter as an emergency broadcast system – and for good reason. According to Twitter Stories, when the March 11, 2011 tsunami was headed their way, two Kindergarten teachers were frantically scrambling to higher ground with 71 disabled students.
They reached a community center where they, along with 375 others, were forced to the roof as the water continued to rise. And then the surface of water caught fire.
“Just before her mobile phone battery died, [one of the teachers] Ms. Utsumi emailed her son, Naohito:”
At a community center. Sea of fire. Maybe this is it. Do our best.
Naohito was 10,000 kilometers away in London, so he “tweeted his mother’s situation and asked for help from anyone who saw the message.”
In Tokyo, Shuichi Suzuki saw and retweeted it with a call-out to the Vice Governor of Tokyo, @inosenaoki, in his retweet. The Vice Governor saw it and alerted the Disaster Defence Director of Tokyo’s Fire Department, who happened to be in a nearby office, to send help.
As dawn broke, a helicopter made its way to the community center to look for signs of life. The pilot spotted the huge crowd of stranded people still on the roof. He sent for help, and eventually, several more helicopters took turns rescuing all 446 people. Everyone made it out safely.
(image from Shutterstock)