Thursday March 22nd 2018

Disaster preparedness

The events of Sept. 11, 2001, forever transformed the way hospitals and communities develop disaster response plans. Healthcare Traveler considered how emergency plans have changed in the decade since 9/11.

ANA’s senior policy analyst Katie Brewer, MSN, RN, was among the health professionals interviewed for the article, stressing the importance of hospitals joining forces with other emergency first responders.

“These joint exercises are often crucial because they allow for different entities to hone their skill in a joint environment. They’ve really done, I think, a better job of making regional and interagency coordination a priority in a lot of these trainings,” Brewer remarked.

Brewer added one of the keys to a successful emergency plan is teamwork.

“Part of the perspective and part of the mindset of disaster preparedness is that everybody needs to be prepared to do any kind of job,” she said. “Just because you are a nurse doesn’t mean that you would be doing what you’d normally do as a nurse in that preparedness response.”

Equally important when treating patients in an emergency is the evaluation of a patient’s mental and emotional well-being.

Brewer saw just how important such emotional support can be when she was doing her clinical rotation as a nursing student at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York on 9/11.

“I would say as important if not more important to taking care of people’s physical health is really being cognizant of their mental and emotional well-being and being able to address that in addition to treating their physical issues,” she said.

— Mary McNamara is the senior public relations specialist at ANA.

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