How hospital communities can work together in an emergency to save lives
In the case of a hurricane or tropical storm, your patients, staff and family member’s physical safety is your first concern, so it’s important for you to prepare an emergency plan, in advance. But even if your facility is not directly hit by a disaster, your neighborhood or community could be affected for several days or longer by power outages, blocked roads, and damage to grocery stores, gas stations, and other businesses.
Your healthcare will be a beacon of safety for your community. Is your facility prepared in case of a disaster? Is your neighbor prepared? Is your community prepared? Do you have a plan? What does it take to be prepared? What type of resources are available to you in YOUR community? These are all the questions you need to ask BEFORE an emergency strikes.
Having an emergency food supply ready to go makes a huge difference when roads are blocked and supplies cannot get through to your location. Is your food supply enough for patient’s needs, staff and family? Have you anticipated a surge of disaster victims, volunteers and others affected by the disaster or emergency? Can you meet all therapeutic diets in an emergency? Do you have enough water? Being prepared saves lives!
Perhaps you are faced with an evacuation. Do you have resources that you can take with you ready to go? Many families choose to go to their neighborhood health care facility in the event of a disaster. Some disasters have severe casualties and area healthcare facilities can be overwhelmed by an additional rush of patients, families and guests.
Emergency alerts generally send community residents to the facility that is most prepared to handle the emergency. Which facility in you community do you think residents will end up at? Will it be yours? Will you be able to handle this influx? Or could there be another way?
Individual healthcare facilities can make a difference in their own communities by bringing together community leaders to plan for emergencies, before they happen. Community safety, other healthcare facilities and personal preparedness is vital to the overall preparedness of the United States, and its ability to withstand and recover from natural disasters, man-made emergencies, economic downturns, and terrorist attacks. You will only be secure in your healthcare facility if others in your community are also prepared for disasters/emergencies.
Start today! Bring together a group of local healthcare agencies and community members to provide resources and support in the event of an emergency. There are organizations in your community that host community-planning meetings, provide preparedness information and volunteer opportunities to community members when needed to respond to a disaster.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Identify local resources: mealsforall.com/resources/emergency-disaster-resources/
- Create or join a network with your nearby facilities and neighbors to share the effort: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
- Set outcome-based goals and track your progress to those goals
- Record, share and celebrate your successes together
The President is calling on all Americans to participate in our nation’s recovery and renewal by serving in our communities. The US Dept. of Homeland Security encourages healthcare facilities and providers to participate in local coalitions. There are many ways to get involved. America’s new foundation of security will be built one community at a time – and it starts with you and your facility.