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

Academic-Practice Partnerships Can Improve Preparedness

The United States needs a healthcare and public health workforce that possesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities to respond to any disaster or public health emergency in a timely and appropriate manner. The level of readiness and willingness to participate is critical to the success of any large-scale disaster response. The role of healthcare professionals across a broad range of specialties and during all phases of a disaster should be understood as disaster competence will be critical to population outcomes. The absence of a clearly articulated vision and framework for disaster education is not without consequences. An unprepared workforce has the potential to limit the effectiveness of local, state and federal response plans, limit organization surge capacity and to negatively impact health outcomes in populations impacted by disasters.

A team of researchers from the University of Missouri – Saint Louis, Saint Louis University, and Johns Hopkins recently undertook a multi-pronged approached to identify essential educational needs and core competencies, as well as to assess the status of integration of state and local-level population focused training. Data were synthesized from in-depth discussions with key informants, review of relevant documents, guided discussions at key partner stakeholder meetings, review and abstraction from available core competencies and other government planning documents, the survey of medical, public health, and nursing programs and interviews with experts.

We developed a toolkit using a collaborative and partner-centered approach to disaster preparedness and response which is designed for interdisciplinary workforce development. We are posting all of the toolkits on https://disasternursing.org/toolkit/ and are dedicated to making them all available in the Creative Commons. The modules, curriculum, and workshop all reflect collaboration between public health and primary care. The flexible guidance will help primary care providers to apply theoretical principals during disaster response and preparedness activities with a population focus. A workforce that is continually learning and collaborative is essential to prepared communities. All are welcome to attend the workshop that is scheduled for July 27, 2017. You can register at https://disasternursing.org/events/ . The event is free, but registration is required.