Lac-Megantic Train Derailment: Putting Out the Fires (A)
(5 pages of text)
In the early morning of Saturday, July 6, 2013, the chairman of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Limited faced a catastrophic situation when a company train carrying crude oil derailed in the small town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, Canada, causing a series of explosions that decimated the downtown core. Emergency crews fought to put out fires and search for survivors; residents were relocated to a local school to escape the noxious fumes, but the death toll and number of missing continued to rise. In the days that followed, as the provincial police and federal agencies began to investigate and suggested they might lay charges of criminal negligence, the company, which had no permanent public relations staff, needed to devise a communication strategy to reassure various stakeholders who were looking for answers as to why the derailment occurred, who would be held accountable and ultimately what action would be taken in the aftermath of such a deadly event. Also available is the supplement case 9B13M136
The case can be used in courses on crisis communications, ethics, leadership and public relations to teach the following objectives:
- To place students directly into the leadership role of a company during a crisis situation.
- To evaluate the sensitivity of a crisis situation with multiple stakeholders.
- To demonstrate the significance of responding to a crisis by communicating in a timely manner with appropriate content and effective leadership.
- To provide students with an opportunity to develop their analytic, strategic planning, communication, leadership and decision-making skills.
- To develop a communication plan for MMA to utilize.
Transportation and Warehousing
Canada, Medium, 2013
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