How to Compose a Follow-Up Release

How To 7 min
Provide the most up-to-date information in a follow-up release after an injury or casualty.

A follow-up release goes beyond the initial release by providing the most up-to-date, relevant information that is allowed to be released to inform the public of an incident. It should get into the details that can be released at the time of the follow-up. One big thing to remember is that events change as new facts come to light. Don’t rely on preliminary information. If facts have changed, use the new information.

Attention!
Check with your unit to ensure there are no further local policies or guidelines for this task.

The lead sentence should be the same as what was provided for the initial release but with the following updates:

  • Date
  • News peg, if applicable
  • Unit’s information, if available now, to add more clarity to the impersonal "who" information” 

An example of a lead sentence that was updated with any new information. In this case it was the unit's name, 26th Mission Group. The lead of the initial release only reported that three Airmen were killed when a tornado formed on the base flightline. Photo by DINFOS
Image of text that reads, "Three Airmen assigned to the 26th Mission Support Group were found dead on Oct. 7 at approximately 11:40 a.m., when a tornado formed on the base flight line."
An example of a lead sentence that was updated with any new information. In this case it was the unit's name, 26th Mission Group. The lead of the initial release only reported that three Airmen were killed when a tornado formed on the base flightline.
Photo by: DINFOS
VIRIN: 210409-D-PA656-0001
Most importantly, confirm the next of kin have been notified and the 24-hour notification period is over. The next of kin list can be very long or quite short. It's important to notify ALL next of kin before proceeding.

  • It's important to note the notification period is 24 hours after the LAST of next of kin has been notified. That is based on the personnel accountability information on the deceased and who is listed as next of kin.
  • Permission to release the name from the next of kin is not required. If the next of kin asks that the name not be released, the commander can decide to honor that request.
  • Names of the injured along with specific injuries are only releasable with the patient’s consent. If
    consent is not given, unit and duty title can still be provided along with the condition statement
    (i.e. stable).

After you receive consent, move on to the next step.

In the second sentence or paragraph, list the dead. Continue to step 4 if there are no deceased. Note that you must have completed step 2, Confirm personal information is releasable, before releasing the names of the deceased.

When listing the deceased:

  • List names in alphabetical order by their last name
  • Include the following information, if applicable, in this order:
    • Service
    • Rank
    • Full name
    • Gender
    • Age
    • Job title
    • Unit
    • Home

Civilian contractors will not have a service or rank.

Structure the beginning of the sentence appropriately based on the number of deceased people, using the following format:

  • For a single deceased person,
    • Indent the sentence
    • Begin the bridge with “Dead is”
    • Continue on the same line with the deceased’s information
  • For two or more deceased,
    • Do not indent
    • Begin the bridge with “Dead are:” on its own line
    • Break to the next line
    • Indent and list each deceased person's information on their own line

The first example depicts a bridge sentence for listing one deceased person. The second example shows the bridge sentence format to use if there are two or more deceased. Photo by Andrea Batts-Latson
Writing sample of a bridge sentence for deceased: Dead is Air Force Staff Sgt. John J. Smith, male, 27, a patrolman with the 26th Security Forces Squadron here, originally from Del Rio, Texas. Or Dead are: Elizabeth M. Jones, female, 42, a librarian with the 26th Force Support Squadron here, originally from Rapid City, South Dakota. Air Force Staff Sgt. John J. Smith, male, 27, a patrolman with the 26th Security Forces Squadron here, originally from Del Rio, Texas.
The first example depicts a bridge sentence for listing one deceased person. The second example shows the bridge sentence format to use if there are two or more deceased.
Photo by: Andrea Batts-Latson
VIRIN: 200423-D-VE872-2002
Be sure to confer with the commander, JAG and medical communities for details on the injured person(s).

After the deceased are identified, list the injured in the following paragraph. Do not list the dead and injured in the same paragraph. The structure for both listings is very similar.

Continue to step 5 if there are no injuries. Note that you must have completed step 2, Confirm personal information is releasable, before releasing the names of the injured.

When listing the injured:

  • Write about injuries in the past tense
  • List names in alphabetical order by their last name
  • Include the following information, if applicable, in this order:
    • Service
    • Rank
    • Full name
    • Job title
    • Unit

Civilian contractors will not have a service or rank.

Structure the beginning of the sentence appropriately based on the number of injured people, using the following format:

  • For a single injured person,
    • Indent the sentence
    • Begin the bridge with “Injured was”
    • Continue on the same line with the injured’s information
  • For two or more injured,
    • Do not indent
    • Begin the bridge with “Injured were:” on its own line
    • Break to the next line
    • Indent and list each injured person's information on their own line

When listing the injured, the bridge sentence format is similar to that for listing the deceased. The first example is for one injured and the second is for two or more injured. Photo by Andrea Batts-Latson
Writing sample of bridge sentence for injured: Injured was Staff Sgt. John J. Smith, a patrolman with the 26th Security Forces Squadron. Or Injured were: Elizabeth M. Jones, a librarian with the 26th Force Support Squadron. Air Force Staff Sgt. John J. Smith, a patrolman with the 26th Security Forces Squadron.
When listing the injured, the bridge sentence format is similar to that for listing the deceased. The first example is for one injured and the second is for two or more injured.
Photo by: Andrea Batts-Latson
VIRIN: 200423-D-VE872-2003
Once the bridge is done, it's time to begin discussing the cause of death, type of injuries and other medical details. Continue to step 6 if there are no deceased.

Similar to the bridge, begin by listing the deceased followed by the injured. The dead will have their own paragraph(s) and the injured will have their own paragraph(s). List the names in alphabetical order by their last name.

The body should begin with how and when the deceased arrived at the hospital.

  • If the deceased took the same transport to the same hospital, state that in a single paragraph placed above each person’s additional medical details.
  • If any details differ, give each person their own separate paragraph explaining how and where they went. 
  • If two or more of the deceased went to the same place and had the same cause of death, they can be merged into one paragraph. 

This information can also be combined with the medical data, but make sure to cover all the information within the body.

Structure the medical details using the following format:
[Last name] was pronounced dead at [medical facility] at [time], said [doctor full ID]. They died of [cause of death].

When writing the body details for the deceased:

  • Always attribute all medical information. Every paragraph that mentions a prognosis must have an attribution.
  • Don't say the deceased were “pronounced dead on arrival,” if you don’t know for sure.

While writing about the dead and injured, be mindful of the pain everyone involved is going through. Be tasteful and consider propriety at all times. This means:

  1. Don't list injuries as is, and don't use complex medical terms.
  2. Say the injured suffered their wounds, not sustained.
  3. Say ‘internal injuries’ instead of graphically talking about the dead’s organs rupturing and being torn asunder.
  4. Say ‘blood loss’ instead of getting too graphic about excessive bleeding.
  5. Say ‘head injury’ instead of saying their brain was severely injured.
  6. Say ‘gunshot wounds’ instead of detailing where they were hit.

Examples of writing the medical information for the deceased in the story’s body. The first example is if the deceased's information can be merged. The second example shows the information separated. Photo by Andrea Batts-Latson
Writing sample for writing the medical information: Jones and Smith were pronounced dead on arrival at the Billy Mitchell Medical Center at 12:30 p.m., said Col. Lauren O’Malley, the hospital chief of medical services at BMMC. Both died of internal injuries. Or Jones was pronounced dead on arrival at the Billy Mitchell Medical Center at 12:30 p.m., said Col. Lauren O’Malley, the hospital chief of medical services at BMMC. She died of internal injuries. Smith was pronounced dead on arrival at the BMMC at 12:30 p.m., said O’Malley. He died of blood loss.
Examples of writing the medical information for the deceased in the story’s body. The first example is if the deceased's information can be merged. The second example shows the information separated.
Photo by: Andrea Batts-Latson
VIRIN: 200423-D-VE872-2004
The medical details for the injured will have the same format as those of the deceased. Continue to step 6 if there are no injured.

Compose the medical details for the injured exactly like those of the deceased:

  • The body should begin with the how and when the injured arrived at the hospital.
  • If the injured took the same transport to the same hospital, state that in a single paragraph placed above each person’s additional medical details.
  • If any details differ, give each person their own separate paragraph explaining how and where they went.
  • Give each of the injured their own paragraph(s), listed in alphabetical order by their last name.
  • Always attribute all medical information. Every paragraph that mentions a prognosis must have an attribution.
  • Include the known condition and type of injury the injured suffered, if permitted, using the past tense, keeping in mind injuries can change quickly for better or worse.

This information can also be combined with the medical data, but make sure to cover all the information within the body.

Structure the medical details using the following format:
[Last name] was in [known condition] with [type of injury] at [date].

Lastly, just like for the deceased, be mindful, tasteful and consider propriety at all times when writing about the injured. Refer to step 5 for more details on writing about the injured. PA professionals should review all the information, prior to release, against Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Privacy Act considerations. Care should be given to preserve the dignity of the victims and their families.

The format for writing the medical information for the injured in the body of the article is very similar when writing for the deceased. The first example is if the information can be merged. The second example shows the information separated, if it can't be merged. Photo by Andrea Batts-Latson
Writing sample of listing medical information: Writing sample for listing medical info: Jones and Smith were both in critical condition with internal injuries at BMMC, said O’Malley. Or Jones was in stable condition with cuts and bruises at BMMC, said O’Malley. Smith was in critical condition with a chest wound at BMMC, said O’Malley.
The format for writing the medical information for the injured in the body of the article is very similar when writing for the deceased. The first example is if the information can be merged. The second example shows the information separated, if it can't be merged.
Photo by: Andrea Batts-Latson
VIRIN: 200423-D-VE872-2005
After the deceased and injured have been mentioned, add all remaining releasable information. For example:

  • Condolence quote from the commander
  • Event details
  • Weather conditions
  • Mission-related facts
  • Number of crew
  • Memorial service information or emotional support details
  • Contact number for the Public Affairs office for more information

Release only directly-relevant information with command approval, balanced against the risk of assigning blame or culpability.

Example of miscellaneous information to include within the body. Photo by DINFOS
Image of miscellaneous text that provides a quote from the commander, the day and time of the memorial service and information on the suspect.
Example of miscellaneous information to include within the body.
Photo by: DINFOS
VIRIN: 210409-D-PA656-0002
Just like your initial release, the follow-up release has an investigation statement as the last paragraph of your story. Do not be creative here, instead copy and insert the specific event as follows:

The incident is under investigation.

An example of an investigation statement. Photo by DINFOS
Image of text that reads, "The incident is under investigation."
An example of an investigation statement.
Photo by: DINFOS
VIRIN: 210409-D-PA656-0003
Note the order, indentations and structure of information.

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas  - A patrolman from the 26th Security Forces Squadron was killed and a librarian with the 26th Force Support Squadron was injured during a shooting at approximately 7 a.m., Oct. 24 at the Herbert Library.
Dead is U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. John J. Smith, male, 27, a patrolman with the 26th SFS, originally
from Del Rio, Texas.
Injured was Elizabeth M. Jones, a librarian with the 26th SFS.
“Our hearts go out to all involved,” said Col. Emeline Miller, 26th Air Mobility Wing commander. "We're
all saddened by the tragic loss of Sergeant Smith and Mrs. Jones. On behalf of the base community, I'd
like to express our deepest condolences to their family and loved ones. They will be sorely missed."
A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m., Oct. 30 at the main chapel. In addition, the base chaplain
is offering grieving and counseling services for Airmen and families affected by the shooting.
The shooting suspect is in custody.
The incident is under investigation.