The Role of Nurses During Disasters or Crises: Are We Ready??
The Role of Nurses During Disasters or Crises : Are We ready??
Stephanie Grey RN/FCN
Nurses, in the 21st century have entered a very dynamic and forever changing public health system, where we face the risks of man-made/natural disasters, crime and violence of magnitude proportions, and other risks. Disaster Nursing is no longer limited to Public Health Nurses, but all must be trained and be prepared to help their communities. As we saw with the recent massacre shooting in Aurora Colorado, after midnight, many nurses and doctors were called to assist the emergency rooms in hospitals as they became overwhelmed with patients and limited staff. They were all prepared, and many lives were spared ! We need to take a look at how the response team was able to collaborate and communicate at such short notice, well, it came from preparation of scenarios like this and teams working together, which were inter-disciplinary covering : Government, EMS, Police, Fire-Men, Nurses, Doctors, Counselors and Faith-Based Organizations.
Disaster Nursing, is being prepared to go beyond your call of duty, during a crises, and help people remain safe and healthy. We all serve in various roles, but where-ever you work, there is now the risk of some type of disaster happening in our community. You can alleviate your fears, by signing up with your local Red Cross, visit www.redcross.org or Salvation Army. Your place of work should also have a Disaster Plan and conduct drills from time to time. Some nurses are disabled and are not in active duty, but you can be trained also by FEMA (www.fema.gov /training ), online and help distribute their material, free of charge. See attached link to get your order form and distribute to family, friends, in community and places of worship. FEMA even have special material in Braille for the Vision Impaired and they also have a great group online National Preparation Coalition : http://community.fema.gov/connect.ti/READYNPM ), and anyone can join.
All of us need to think about disasters from a global perspective as it affects all nations and the World Health Organization (www.who.int) , and also Doctors Without Borders (www.doctorswithoutborders.org), who go into high risk areas, and administer patient care, and yes, they are in great need of nurses all the time. Nationally, the CDC (www.cdc.gov) , SAMHSA (www.mentalhealth.samhsa.gov), and APHA (www.aphagetready.org), are great organizations to get information especially for healthcare professionals. Locally, please use your Yellow Pages and get information on local community resources who can help you-like light/cable companies, gas and water, police, fire and rescue, EMS and government contacts. It will take a village of residents and government to work together to prepare, and nurses can play a great role in educating themselves and also sharing the information throughout their community.
Personally, as a Red Cross nurse, I use my website, social media, creation of handouts, newsletters and word of mouth, write and publish little books, to get information to the Public. I also receive free resources from those involved in emergency preparedness like American Red Cross , and FEMA and its rewarding, because they can take the information back to family and friends and neighbors. Make use of : Workplaces, Laundromats, Libraries and Family gatherings , every little each one does, can go a long way in creating safer and healthier communities. **Please also help children and youth be prepared, you would be amazed at the help they can be, in times of disasters. Visit http://www.ready.gov/kids**
Other Disaster Preparedness Resources
US Department of Homeland Security : www.ready.gov 1-800-BE-Ready
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services : www.pandemicflu.gov
Centers for Disease Control (Bioterrorism) : http://www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation/
American Red Cross : www.redcross.org
International Red Cross : www.redcross.int
Jamaican Red Cross : www. jamaicanredcross.org
Community Emergency Response Team : https://www.citizencorps.gov/cert/
American Nurses Association Disaster Response for Nurses : Visit www.nursingworld.org
Medical Reserve Corps : https://medicalreservecorps.gov/HomePage
National Disaster Medical System : http://www.phe.gov/preparedness/pages/default.aspx
Prepared by Stephanie Grey
Be Healthy Ministries, Inc
I am a American Red Cross nurse as well and find it very rewarding. Volunteer retention on health care professionals is a big issue here in central TX. Health professionals that are licensed are usually employed and therefor not able to respond when disaster happens, unless the assignment comes from their employer. There are nurses that will "show up" at a shelter during a disaster, and when the ARC or other leadership organization, requires that they go through background checks and have their license verified, etc, they become offended.I have offered (begged) to teach ARC disaster response classes at nursing schools, nursing professional organizations, public health departments, and hospitals, so that a nurse can volunteer when able. It is very rare that I get taken up on the offer, and often those who take the training don't respond when called upon.
There was a time in this country when every nurse was a Red Cross Nurse, that getting an ARC nursing pin was almost as important as getting your school pin. Nurses are the most trusted profession in the USA, according the Gallup poll. We need to lead the way in preparedness and in response when disaster happens.
Volunteer, and encourage others to do the same.
See you at the next one.
Stephanie: I appreciate your comments to the professional nurses out there who will most likely be involved in some type of disaster during their careers. Nursing is not like it used to be. Now we need to be prepared for disasters and educate others we associate with. Emergency preparedness and responding to disasters is now on the list of the many responsibilities nurses need to do to help provide health and safety to their clients, families, acquaintenances, and their communities.
Tamra Bishop RN, BSN
This is a great post - thank you for making time to share this with everyone - you've got lots of great resources here.
Also, thank you for pointing how all the preparation the nurses, doctors, and other personel did helped so many people in Aurora.