Disaster Preparedness, Make a Plan/Practice the Plan
Is your facility, your family, and your staff ready for a disaster? With the devastation of Katrina and Rita, many people have been left wondering if they are truly prepared for a disaster of that magnitude. Obviously, we have few hurricanes here in the Northwest however all Oregonians are at risk of suffering the devastation that can occur in an earthquake. It is not a matter of if but when and unlike hurricanes, earthquakes give no advance warning of attack.
The question to ask yourself is if an earthquake occurred today and shut down communication and resources, could you safely care for the sick and now possibly newly injured residents for up to 72 hours with the staff you have on hand? Put your plan on paper and have your facility practice a mock drill within the facility. Make the plan realistic enough to arm your staff with the ability to make good decisions that keep residents safe and the staff encouraged to stay and help. To keep employees concentrated on their tasks it is important for them to understand their role in an emergency. The City of Portland recommends that you create a Fire/Life Safety Team comprised of a Safety Director, Building Response Team, Floor Wardens, and Assistant Monitors. This safety team handles all emergencies and is armed with duties that are pre-determined and practiced.
Every facility has practiced a fire drill and handling a disaster situation is much the same. The additional challenge in an earthquake is that there may be other emergencies that occur secondary to the earthquake like fires, exposure to gas fumes etc. You need an educated team ready to respond to these emergencies that are trained and able to lead the others through an intense event. There is an old saying “knowledge is power” and I suggest you give your staff the power to deal with any emergency. To receive a thorough package of how to prepare for a variety of emergencies contact your local fire department.
To help your employees and their families prepare for a disaster contact your local Red Cross and ask for information about protecting their homes and preparing disaster kits. Many employees are more apt to stay at work if they know their families have prepared for such an incident.
We have seen the devastation, we have seen the unprepared, don’t wait to see if you are ready. Make a plan!
American Medical Response is the largest ambulance company in the United States and supplied 220 emergency workers and over 80 ambulances from across the nation to those affected by Katrina. I would like to applaud all of these emergency workers for their dedication to serving others, I would also like to applaud AMR who went the extra mile to assure the families of those affected by Katrina and those that went to help were well taken care of during this time. They had a plan and it worked.
Source: Sarah Ross, American Medical Response Northwest, PO Box 15339, Portland, OR 97293-5339, www.amr.net
Posted April 2008. Markets: Oregon, Portland, Salem
Provided by: American Medical Response
For more information: www.amr.net, 503-793-8240
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