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Disaster Planning in Public Health and Nursing Essay

The Disaster

Many parts of Springfield, New Jersey, are floodplains, so the area is often affected by floods. Floods occur during or after extreme rain events such as hurricanes and associated remnants, inland storm, and the like (Blaikie, Cannon, Davis, & Wisner, 2014). In their turn, extreme weathers are caused by climate change. Whereas, human activities can also lead to floods as the irresponsible use of lands can create the premises for the occurrence of floods. The natural disaster in question can have a significant negative impact on the community including casualties, the loss of property, damages to the infrastructure, and various health risks.

Floods are associated with such health issues as infectious diseases diarrheal diseases, wound infections, chemical hazards, injuries, animal and insect bites, and electrical hazards (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2017). It is noteworthy that the major cause of deaths during floods is drowning, and it has been estimated that over 2,500 people drowned in floods between 1963 and 2012 (U.S. Global Change Research Program [USGCRP], 2016).

As far as infectious diseases are concerned, these health issues can lead to detrimental effects as they can result in epidemics. The infectious diseases associated with floods include tuberculosis, Hepatitis A/B/C, E. coli, cholera, salmonellosis, rotavirus diarrhea, typhoid fever, shigellosis (CDC, 2017). The development of these diseases usually occurs during a major disaster that causes substantial damage to the infrastructure (especially water supplies and disposal systems). It is also essential to make sure that corpses are handled properly as they may cause certain health hazards.

The Nursing Response

Springfield, New Jersey, does not have its own disaster mitigation plan so the disaster mitigation team and other stakeholders involved will follow the state’s hazard mitigation plan (State of New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, 2017). The county also has its hazards mitigation plan that can be used in the town. It is necessary to note that the plans do not include a specific section concerning the roles and responsibilities, as well as particular actions, of healthcare professionals. Each healthcare facility has their guidelines and emergency plans that are developed on the basis of the state and county plans mentioned above. During disaster events, the nursing staff of healthcare facilities is working in a more intensive mode.

As for the existing practices and guidelines, it is necessary to note that all states and many countries have their mitigation plans that are developed by a team of professionals involved in such spheres as the emergency department, city management, health care, law enforcement, and so on. Cowen and Moorhead (2014) name different roles nursing practitioners can perform during emergency events. For instance, emergency nurses are the most prepared nursing professionals who have the necessary knowledge and skills to respond to various types of emergency (Cowen & Moorhead, 2014). These professionals take part in the development and implementation of hazards mitigation plans. They also coordinate the work of other nurses during emergency events.

Clearly, all nursing practitioners contribute and should be prepared to contribute significantly when responding to an emergency. For instance, staff development measures undertaken at healthcare facilities enable nurses to respond effectively during a disaster (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2016). Nurses also receive certain training in medical schools as emergency response is a part of their curriculum.

However, it is also acknowledged that the level of preparedness is still insufficient, which can cause significant threats to public health (Veenema et al., 2017). At the same time, various recommendations are available online and through official channels as emergency departments collaborate with healthcare facilities to improve healthcare professionals’ preparedness. Healthcare facilities, as well as nursing practitioners, can use these guidelines to acquire skills and knowledge.

During emergency events, nurses administer various clinical procedures, provide psychological and emotional support to patients and their families, provide training and recommendations concerning people’s actions in different emergency events, collaborate with other healthcare professionals, and so on (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2016). Furthermore, vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Nurses play an important role in the administration of vaccines and propagation of the benefits of this measure. It is necessary to note that the workload increases exponentially during disasters and certain periods after them, which may lead to burnout. Nurses often have to address various ethical issues, which also leads to nurses’ burnout, job dissatisfaction, and so on. These issues are often addressed in training courses, which increases nursing practitioners’ preparedness to emergency events.

It is also noteworthy that the mentioned plans and recommendations highlight some ways to assist the most vulnerable populations that include the elderly, children, ethnic minorities, people with limited resources access, and other groups. At that, Collins, Jimenez, and Grineski (2012) claim that these populations are still vulnerable and more attention should be paid when planning and implementing emergency plans. The major issues associated with the provision of care to these people are associated with access to resources and patients’ ability to make decisions.

The Community’s Preparedness

The brief analysis of the resources available in the community, as well as common practices and procedures used in other countries and states, shows that Springfield is not properly prepared to emergency events including the most common natural disaster in this area, floods. Although there are certain guidelines that reflect the major areas of concern when responding to natural disasters, these frameworks pay little attention to the roles and responsibilities of nurses. Springfield’s officials and the Department of Emergency should develop a detailed plan that could be used during emergency events.

The plan should include a description of communication channels among healthcare facilities and healthcare professionals, as well as major responsibilities of the staff. Nurses should also be aware of the resources available in the community. The developed plans, frameworks, and recommendations should be available online.

It is also critical to provide more extensive training to healthcare professionals and the community. Public nurses and emergency nurses will play central roles in this process. However, other nursing professionals should also take an active part in such activities. This will help nurses and people living in the community be better prepared to various emergency events. This kind of communication and collaboration is specifically critical with the vulnerable populations mentioned above. These groups and their families should know about available resources as well as major ways to behave during emergency events.

The development of different courses for the formal and on-the-job training is essential. These courses should address such areas as peculiarities of different emergency events, ways to respond to different situations, roles, and responsibilities of nurses and other healthcare professionals, ways to help the most vulnerable groups. These measures will make Springfield nurses well-prepared to floods and their aftermaths.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). . Web.

Collins, T., Jimenez, A., & Grineski, S. (2012). Hispanic health disparities after a flood disaster: Results of a population-based survey of individuals experiencing home site damage in El Paso (Texas, USA). Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 15(2), 415-426.

Cowen, P. S., & Moorhead, S. (2014). Current issues in nursing (8th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Stanhope, M., & Lancaster, J. (2016). Public health nursing: Population-centered health care in the community (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.

State of New Jersey Office of Emergency Management. (2017). . Web.

U.S. Global Change Research Program. (2016). The impacts of climate change on human health in the United States: A scientific assessment. Web.

Veenema, T., Lavin, R., Griffin, A., Gable, A., Couig, M., & Dobalian, A. (2017). Call to action: The case for advancing disaster nursing education in the United States. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 49(6), 688-696.

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