Now is the Time, Personal Preparedness Can’t Wait!

On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas leading to catastrophic flooding in Houston and surrounding areas.  Less than two weeks later, Hurricane Irma slammed into the Caribbean and Florida, causing flooding, damage, and widespread power outages.  Most hospitals in the impacted areas sheltered-in-place requiring nurses and other critical staff to stay at the facilities for extended periods.

While these disasters had some advance warning, many aspects of the disaster were uncertain including the extent and location of flooding, power outages, etc. Other disasters, such as tornadoes or earthquakes, strike with little or no warning. Previous studies have found that lack of personal preparedness, concern/fear for family and pets, concern for the effect of the disaster on self and personal property, and transportation difficulties pose major barriers to disaster response. Although many agree that healthcare organizations should address the personal preparedness of their employees, little is known about the degree to which the U.S. nursing workforce is personally prepared to respond to disasters for extended periods of time.

The Society for the Advancement of Disaster Nursing believes personal preparedness of the nursing workforce is paramount. This week, SADN members will be hosting a presentation on personal preparedness at the Emergency Nurses 2017 Conference in St. Louis, MO (Details below).

Title: Now is the Time, Personal Preparedness Can’t Wait!
Date: Thursday, September 14, 2017
Presentation time 3:15 PM – 4:15 PM
Room: 267

We hope conference attendees will be able to join us for this session.

For nurses who are not attending this conference, we recommend you undertake the following steps to get prepared as soon as possible:

  1. Assemble disaster supplies kit for home, work, and car
  2. Create a family disaster plan. Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is important to know which types of disasters could affect your area and have a plan in place that addresses how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated. Tailor this plan to any special needs your family has, including care of pets.
  3. Practice and update your plan regularly, just like a fire drill.
  4. Familiarize yourself with your organization’s emergency operations plan and know your role if a disaster strikes.

See https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1549-20490-4633/areyouready_full.pdf for more information on becoming personally prepared.

Alicia Gable, MPH

Check out our newest postings under the ‘Resources & Links’ Tab-Including important information for hurricane responders

General Disaster Response and Recovery Information

  • Tips for Survivors of a Disaster or Other Traumatic Event: Managing Stress—This SAMHSA tip sheet gives stress prevention and management tips for dealing with the effects of trauma, mass violence, or terrorism. It lists tips to relieve stress, describes how to know when to seek professional help, and provides accompanying resources. http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA13-4776/SMA13-4776.pdf This tip sheet is also available in Spanish at http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//SMA13-4776SPANISH/SMA13-4776SPANISH.pdf.
  • Psychological First Aid (PFA)—Developed jointly by the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, PFA is an evidence-informed modular approach for assisting people in the immediate aftermath of disaster and terrorism: to reduce initial distress, and to foster short- and long-term adaptive functioning. http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/materials/manuals/psych-first-aid.asp
  • Effects of Traumatic Stress After Mass Violence, Terror, or Disaster—This web page from the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) describes the emotional, cognitive, physical, and interpersonal reactions that disaster survivors may experience and discusses potentially severe stress symptoms and PTSD, anxiety disorders, and depression. The page also provides information about how survivors can reduce their risk of psychological difficulties and recover from disaster stress. http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/trauma/disaster-terrorism/stress-mv-t-dhtml.asp

Hurricane- and Flood-Specific Information

  • Hurricanes and Tropical Storms—The SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline provides information on who is most at risk for emotional distress from hurricanes and tropical storms and where to find disaster-related resources. http://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline/disaster-types/hurricanes Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 Spanish Speakers Call 1-800-985-5990 and press “2” From the U.S., text Hablanos to 6674

Resources for Children, Youth, Parents and Other Caregivers, and Schools

Resources Focused on Older Adults

Resources for Disaster Responders

  • Disaster Mental Health for Responders: Key Principles, Issues and Questions—This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web page presents information that may be helpful to disaster survivors and first responders during and after a disaster. The page opens with guiding principles and also features survivor needs and common responses to disasters, signs that someone may need a mental health referral, common signs of stress among disaster responders, and examples of ways to care for yourself after a disaster. http://emergency.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/responders.asp
  • Psychological First Aid: How You Can Support Well-Being in Disaster VictimsThis fact sheet by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network explains how disaster response workers can use Psychological First Aid to help people in distress after a disaster. http://www.cstsonline.org/assets/media/documents/CSTS_psychological_first_aid.pdf