Western Governors University
HAT 4 – Community Health Nursing
Disaster in Franklin County
The Role of Health Personnel and the Public Nurse
The major role of the public health personnel in a disaster are varied and included the immediate safety and well-being of the members of the community, as well as attention to potential future long term issues. The public health nurse is one of the members of the public health personnel that would help as a member of strike or task force or even possibly as an individual entity, depending on the need.
In this disaster the public health personnel had to deal with multiple problems both during the initial period and after the immediate danger had past. Initially public health had the immediate concerns of food and water safety and power supply. The absence of power creates issues with food spoilage, clean water and a properly working septic system. Additionally, there is a need to set up immediate emergency shelters for people that will be displaced from their homes due to damage or flooding.
It was beneficial that the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) Incident Commander requested the presence of the Public Health Director early on. It was also advantageous to the community that the public health staff had previously had National Incident Management System (NIMS) training. It was easy then to set up an Incident Command System within the public health division to match the complexities and demands of the EOC-ICS. Even though the most ideal personnel were not totally available, there were an appropriate number to set up section chiefs and command staff. With the common language that occurs with NIMS trained personnel, each member of the team was clear about their duties and what was expected of them. “During disaster events, public health has a dual responsibility to not only respond to specific public health threats but also to ensure that essential public health services are maintained for the affected community. Almost any disruption to a community has some sort of public health consequence. Therefore, it is essential that public health has the ability to be a collaborating partner with other agencies as they work together to achieve effective community response” (PHICS, 2011). Chain of Command
Public health personnel were assigned to the following section chiefs and command staff: Operations Chief, Logistics Chief, Planning Chief and Liaison Officer as well as, Public Information Officer and Finance/Administration Chief; similar to that of the main EOC chain of command. Collectively, they immediately took responsibility for an initial status report to the EOC directly during update meetings. The first issue was to determine if the power outage would affect the water supply, CO poisoning and sewage situation. The community nurse was underneath the Public Health group, which is under the Medical Health Branch Director, who reports to the Operations Section Chief for the EOC Commander. As mentioned the PH-ICS had a similar set up to the EOC and the nurse ultimately falls under the direction of the Operations Chief and any additional leaders in a formed task or strike force. This public health nurse worked on a door-to door team made up of fire, public health and public works, to assess the health and well being of a community without power and isolated due to road damage. The nurse took necessary supplies to treat minor injuries and assess patient while out on scene as instruct by the EOC Commander’s directive. Her final report went back to the EOC Commander according to the notes she wrote.
Door-to-Door, Resources, Coping and Technique
The benefit of having an ICS is that while the nurse has been assigned duties that she may not be completely familiar with she has the support of everyone else in the command center that is. When there was an issue of...