Reports from the scene are spotty in terms of numbers killed or injured, and you do not know how many patients you may be getting
Effective disaster management in a health care setting relies on timely and accurate information to assist decision-making. Due to the nature of the emergency event described and the lack of credible information, initial response should be based on the assumption that the majority of injuries are traumatic unless new data is available. In case of an emergency event, the following sources of information can be used to estimate the number and the severity of casualties:
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- An emergency manager could be contacted to get relevant information from first responder organizations.
- Twitter could be used to gather the latest information about the situation on the emergency scene. Twitter users provide firsthand accounts of the events as they unfold in real time, including photos and videos. In addition to regular users, major news outlets such as CNN use Twitter as a means of delivering the latest reports. Twitter has a feature called Twitter Alerts which is used by a number of emergency agencies, including American Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency, to issue alerts in case of an emergency situation.
- TV news reports typically include some footage from the scene which could be used to assess the severity of the emergency situation.
- Emergency channel on the radio could be monitored to get information from the scene as it becomes available.
- Call Detail Records data can be used to estimate the number of people at the scene of the emergency event (Gething & Tatem, 2011).
In order to manage an emergency situation with the minimum disruption to regular hospital functioning, it is necessary to develop emergency management plan (EMP) and provide relevant training to the health care personnel before the event (OSHA Best Practices for Hospital-Based First Receivers of Victims, 2005). Such plan should be initiated in case of an emergency situation in order to establish a chain of command, gather information regarding the nature of the disaster, prepare the hospital for patient surge, and “provide the best care possible given the resources and physical conditions” (Adapting Standards of Care Under Extreme Conditions, 2008, p. 18).
When faced initially with a disaster situation in a health care setting, what should be the first five steps? Why?
The following five-step plan is proposed to deal with a disaster situation in a health care setting:
- Initiation of the EMP. Incident command system should be initiated to establish a chain of command. Hospital staff should be notified about the nature of the disaster to start preparations.
- Establish a command center. A command center is a specific location used to monitor and coordinate hospital-wide activities in the case of a disaster. To minimize confusion, “communication should be coordinated with emergency communications structures at the local level.” (Adapting Standards of Care Under Extreme Conditions, 2008, p. 14).
- Gathering information about the nature of the disaster. All the available sources of information should be monitored to create accurate situational awareness.
- Preparing the hospital for new patients. Non-essential, routine care activities and time-consuming formal procedures should be eliminated for the time of the emergency situation to maximize human resources. In order to accommodate patients in critical condition, all patients in non-critical condition should be relocated or discharged. Patients should be informed about the reason of their discharge. A press room is to be set up in a hospital with clear directions marking a way to the room and designated parking spaces for media personnel (McLain, n.d., p. 5).
- Treating patients injured during the event. In extreme conditions, it is necessary to carefully monitor resource allocation to provide the best care possible for patients in critical condition.
Adapting Standards of Care Under Extreme Conditions. (2008). Web.
Gething, P., & Tatem, A. (2011). Can Mobile Phone Data Improve Emergency Response to Natural Disasters? PLoS Medicine, 8(8). Web.
McLain, S. (n.d.). The Oklahoma City Bombing: Lessons Learned by Hospitals. Web.
OSHA Best Practices for HOSPITAL-BASED FIRST RECEIVERS OF VICTIMS. (2005). Web.