How prepared are you for a disaster?

The study found that communication was a key factor in disaster response. Communication was difficult due to the power outages, but nurses found several “creative solutions, including using batteries, unlocking medication carts in anticipation of the power outage, and writing medical summaries for patients. evacuated to other hospitals, ”according to the report.

Social support was also a recurring theme in the study. Nurses trained in disaster situations would have felt the best prepared for the event, even without any first-hand experience. The nurses worked collaboratively, supported each other and proved to be remarkably resilient in the face of the many challenges of the unprecedented disaster, including the successful evacuation of more than 300 patients. However, the emotional toll was significant in about 5% of nurses studied, according to the report. These nurses reported difficulty sleeping and “disturbing thoughts” after their experience with Superstorm Sandy.

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Planning strategies for healthcare leaders, administrators

Hospitals need to have adequate staffing coverage and succession plans for all critical functions, Gershon said.

“Hospitals must also comply with all emergency preparedness requirements (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Facilities). The main thing that hospitals need to do to survive on their own is to have a contingency plan that has been put into practice by key leaders and staff. Hospitals should be prepared well before disaster strikes for any type of event that could result in loss of electricity, loss of oxygen, loss of water, staff absences due to illness or a transport problem, etc. », Concluded Gershon.

Patrick Hardy, Certified Emergency Manager and CEO of Hytropy Disaster Management, advised, “Get your planning committee together with your department heads and review the incident command missions in the emergency response plan. You should also have regular annual training with all employees on the disaster plan so that everyone understands their responsibilities.

Preparing for disaster “should be a way of life, not a” pull out the manual “type of playtime response, said Lauris Freidenfelds, a healthcare safety consultant with 40 years of experience, including one. stint as Director of Safety and Emergency Preparedness for Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “Every organization should carry out regular hazard / risk assessments. Be brutally honest. These exercises should identify what each organization should be prepared to handle. There should be collaboration with the public sector, as well as with other local private organizations that have emergency preparedness programs. There were health organizations that handled the response to the pandemic very well. They planned and practiced.

Jennifer Adamski DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, CCRN, FCCM has extensive experience in disaster preparedness, especially for intensive care units. In addition to her role as Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of the Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program at Emory University, Adamski works with the Cleveland Clinic Critical Care Flight Team and serves on the Board. National Board of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. . She recommends the following:

  • Ensure that the institution’s hazard vulnerability analysis is updated annually, as well as before any significant local event planned where a disaster could occur. High risk areas must be prepared and anticipated. Think about the potential shortages of necessary supplies, utilities, etc.
  • In a disaster, intensive care capacity and personnel may need to increase rapidly. Having a plan to mobilize staff and expand the ICU space is essential and should not be decided on the fly. The plan should include how to notify staff and where additional patients should be placed. Also think about how you will get any extra gear that might be needed.
  • Action sheets should be in place for each unit or department to guide staff during the first few hours on their tasks before additional resources arrive. Regardless of the staff working at the time, the intervention sheets help ensure a consistent approach.
  • Risk management wants to be part of the facility or health system emergency / disaster committee.
  • To be involved. Meet those who organize emergency and disaster response in the health system. Attend drills and debriefings to learn more about areas for improvement.
  • Keep in mind that crisis level operations in extreme disasters will strain the system and normal standard of care is unlikely to be maintained.
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Expert advice for personal safety

It is important as a nurse to learn all you can about your employer’s emergency plan and to be as prepared as possible.

“When you’re in disaster training, ask questions. Challenge the security manager so you know what your responsibilities are and what the expectations of the facility are, ”said Hardy.

“When hospitals suffer a natural disaster, healthcare providers become both the first responders – and the victims,” which increases stress exponentially, according to the NYU study.

“It takes a lot of emotion for healthcare workers to keep their cool and work long hours to help patients in times of disaster, especially when they wonder and worry about their condition. family at home, ”said Bob Snedaker, owner of Simpler Life. Emergency Arrangements, which provides survival equipment and emergency supplies to government agencies and health facilities nationwide.

He recommended that healthcare workers also have a survival plan and supplies for their families at home, in case they are separated for an extended period.

“Have a family emergency plan (call tree, meeting place, back-up food, food, water at home and in the car) to make sure you have adequate back-up plans for family care (children, the elderly, the disabled, pets, etc.) so that if you have to stay at work for extra shifts, your secondary responsibilities are taken care of, ”Gershon added.

Essential supplies and provisions for disaster survival

Hospitals need “at least 10 days of food, and all triage and trauma kits should be filled to their normal 20-day level,” Hardy advised. “Oxygen and ventilation supplies as well as operating room instruments should be checked against your trauma level capability. “

Experts agreed that the main element of survival is a substantial supply of clean water. “In a disaster, water could take days to become available,” RN Jonathan Steele said. “One of the biggest concerns I see is hydration.”

According to Snedaker, “Hospitals typically buy pallets of canned water, which have the longest shelf life compared to other water storage options.” Canned water has a shelf life of 50 years and can be purchased by pallet. He added that baby cots and emergency kits are some of the other items in high demand by hospital customers.

When it comes to personal supplies, most experts agree that nurses shouldn’t have a lot of personal survival supplies on hand, but it is always advisable to keep an emergency kit in the car, just in case. In addition, it is important to have personal medications with you in case of an emergency.

“And don’t forget your cell phone charger,” Hardy said. “Also bring food and snacks that are appropriate for your diet. Don’t assume your employer has them.

To explore15 essential items for your emergency survival kit

Pediatric disaster response

Experts also stressed the importance of planning and emergency preparedness specific to the needs of children.

“Children have unique physical and emotional needs that must be addressed to take care of them adequately throughout the disaster cycle, from planning to mitigation, response and recovery. Said Dr Deanna Dahl Grove, who is the co-lead of the disaster area at the Children’s Emergency Medical Services Innovation and Improvement Center, a federally funded program that targets improve emergency care for children. “What happens to children in a disaster has the prospect of changing their lives, and it all depends on the planning that families, communities, health systems and others do before the disaster even strikes. The CDC provides tools to understand these differences, for families and healthcare professionals.

Other pediatric disaster response resources include the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Children and Disasters, which also provides materials to further support healthcare professionals and families. The Children’s Emergency Medical Services Innovation and Improvement Center worked with CDC and AAP to strengthen disaster preparedness and better meet the needs of children.

“Including children and families every day and all the time when thinking of ‘a community or an entire region’ that could experience disaster is (imperative) so that no one is left behind or forgotten,” said Grove concluded.

Always be ready

Disaster can strike anywhere. Experts seem unable to stress strongly enough the importance of continuing education, education, awareness and preparation of all hospital staff. For optimal success and survival, every staff member should be prepared to take personal responsibility for strengthening the employer’s emergency plans for the organization.

“Preparation is a responsibility of life,” said Snedaker, “it should be built into the way you think every day. Difficult days will come. If you are not prepared, you will go through things that you don’t need to go through.

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