One of the main services that I offer my clients is social media coaching and reverse mentoring around social media (and other digital). I often get asked by my mentees what the point of some of the social media channels is. Obviously as a patient advocate I have lots of very relevant examples of the value in healthcare but right now I am also able to share another great value add from social … the “marked as safe” functionality.
I think we are all avidly watching the news of hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Jose, as these forces of nature smash into land. As an active animal rescuer my thoughts go automatically towards all the helpless animals trapped – either because they are strays or because their heartless owners left them to the mercy of the storm (i.e. left them to die). Through my animal rescue work I have also got to know many other animal advocates across the world, including in the Caribbean and Florida.
Thanks to social media, particularly Facebook, I have been able to find out about their last minute rescue efforts and also follow how they are coping with the hurricane. Thanks to Facebook’s awesome “marked as safe” feature I can sigh with relief as one by one they log in and let us know they are safe. One of my Facebook friends has been able to stay in touch throughout the hurricane from her bathroom, as her house slowly got ripped apart around her, all thanks to Facebook. She actually disabled all the apps (to save on battery) and was using Facebook mobile and text messages to another friend in California who posted on her behalf and this way was able to stay connected for all the hours of horror that she went through.
Thanks to social media I was also able to follow the dramatic rescue of dogs from a flooded shelter in Texas, while I was in Bali on the beach. I followed the story unfold as heart-wrenching photos of the flooded shelter with the dogs still stuck in their enclosures emerged. The shelter owners begged for help on social media – they had been left to fend for themselves as the authorities focused on rescuing humans. The call went out for people with boats to help and then for help in finding somewhere to house the 70+ animals from the shelter. And social media responded! I nearly cried when I saw the post that they had managed to get all the animals out – and this is largely thanks to publicity that social media generated.
One animal rescue friend however remains silent – and I have been checking his Facebook multiple times a day to no avail. He is in Puerto Rico and is known as the “cat man of Puerto Rico” for all the amazing work he does caring for over 200 stray cats on the island. His last post was heartbreaking as he had gone out to feed the strays one last time before Irma hit and had no idea when he would be able to get to the cats next and how they would survive the storm. I am hoping it is simply that he is without power and as a result of the infrastructure damage can’t get online to post but as each day passes my concern for Glen and his cats grows.
And so I keep checking … and cheer myself up while I wait to hear that he is okay by following all the amazing animal rescue stories that are filling my Facebook. Hopefully next time one of my mentees or workshop attendees asks me about the value of Facebook I can share the “marked as safe” functionality as a great example … including that Glen was able to let us know how he and the cats survived the storm.
Thank you Glen and all of those who battled tireless through this adverse weather to save the animals – you are unsung heroes!
If you’d like to help with the hurricane animal rescue effort check out the HSUS website