Disaster Preparedness Plan
A disaster is generally defined as an event in which illness or injuries surpass resource capabilities of a community or medical facility (Ignatavicius & Workman, 2010). Disaster preparedness is a process of ensuring that an organization has complied with the preventive measures and is in a state of readiness to contain the effects of a predicted disastrous event to minimize loss of life, injury, and damage to property. Disaster preparedness can also provide rescue, relief, rehabilitation, and other services in the aftermath of the disaster, as well as have the capability and resources to continue to sustain its essential functions without being overwhelmed by the demand placed on them. The American Nursing Association is helping to ensure that disaster preparedness and response is robust in this country to be personally and professionally prepared for a disaster. Being in a prepared profession can help cope and help the communities recover from disaster better, faster and stronger (Brewer, 2010).
According to the Maricopa Integrated Health System (MIHS) at Maricopa Medical Center, they have a specialized disaster preparedness plan to fit their current top three hazards. Maricopa Medical Center conducts a Hazard Vulnerability Assessment (HVA) annually. The current top three hazards K.F., Manager of Fire Safety and Disaster Preparedness, at Maricopa Medical Center has identified include: Mass Causality Incidents (trauma, burns, pandemic, etc.), Small Casualty Hazardous Materials Response (less than five patients), and Severe Weather Incidents (monsoonal action, thunderstorms, and haboobs). This organization has a comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan that addresses the top three current hazards in the organization’s region. Maricopa Medical Center is also further developing their business continuity and recovery plans into stand-alone plans (K.F., personal interview, February 13, 2012).
In order to evaluate and determine the effectiveness of the disaster preparedness plan, Maricopa Medical Center annually conducts a minimum of two operational exercises, in addition to various discussion based exercises. The organization’s exercises follow the Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program (HSEEP), which includes an after action report process with an improvement plan and corrective action plan sections. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, many studies have showed that disaster drills have been an effective way to improve staffs knowledge of hospital disaster procedures (Catlett, 2004). Additionally, exercise objectives are developed in such a way to exercise pieces of the plan that have been identified as opportunities for continual improvement and/or grant deliverables. Once opportunities for improvement of the disaster plan are identified, these improvements are remedied by being given corrective actions with specific time frames and the status is reported to senior management. Some recent corrective actions that have occurred within recent years include the development of position-specific training to further build comfort for those that are activated in the Hospital Command Center, plan changes regarding Casualty Care Areas during a response to a Mass Casualty Incident, and Standard Operating Procedure enhancement for the Hospital Emergency Response Team (K.F., personal interview, February 13, 2012).
The representation that is present on the disaster preparedness committee for Maricopa Medical Center does not include nursing management. The emergency management committee includes a cross-sectional representation from the entire health system. This includes Acute Care, Behavioral Health, Ancillary Services, and Outpatient Services. K. F., stated, “Bedside nursing has been extremely instrumental within the various task groups that focus on plan changes. In fact, the task groups associated with Casualty Care, Fatality Management, and HERT...
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