What if I told you there is someone who lists “notify and dispatch emergency personnel and other supporting services to incident locations” as part of their job description at WMATA? You would assume such a person exists, right?
Now, what would you assume the qualifications such a person would possess before being put in charge of insuring emergency services reach paying riders in trouble? A background in public safety? A background in transit operations?
How about just a background in PR?
It’s amazing the things you can find on LinkedIn. I won’t name names here to protect the individual I’m writing about but here’s the broad strokes:
This person’s title is Communications Specialist. This person lists the following as their job description in that position at WMATA:
Develop and implement customer-facing communication and messaging strategies through station announcements, digital communication, social media outlets and the Service Disruption Hotline
Track, monitor and post rail incidents; provide status updates and post impact to service on the Authority’s website
Identify and initiate necessary actions for the Rail Operations Control center; notify and dispatch emergency personnel and other supporting services to incident locations
Monitor emergency telephone console and create documentation for internal notifications during major service disruptions
Maintain operational records and complete and distribute required daily reports; ensure support consistency and prepare and present documentation for all electronic messages
Now, most of this does sound very “PR” but 2 of these things imply this person is responsible for emergency action in the event of an incident.
Here are the prior qualifications (from most recent position to most past position) that qualified this person to be in a position of responsibility when people’s lives are in the balance:
On Air Personality/Producer
Car Rental Manager Trainee
It should also be noted there are, according to LinkedIn, at least 3 other people with this exact same title working at WMATA. In addition to Dan Stessel and Brian Anderson – the more public figures in the public-facing side of WMATA’s PR team, there are these 4 individuals and who knows how many others who all claim to be in a position of responsibility for WMATA’s “social media” communications. Wouldn’t you think with that many hands on deck we’d have coverage during all operating hours? Wouldn’t you think they’d be able to keep the @MetroForward account alive?
Who’s making the calls over there and why are seemingly unqualified people being put in a position of public safety and at the same time not doing the job they’re apparently qualified for on the social media side?