Involve community in your disaster drills
Involve community in your disaster drills
Are you in compliance with new disaster standards from the Oakbrook Terrace, IL-based Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations?
"Before, how to perform the drill was pretty much left up to you. You had the option of involving the community," says Ann Kobs, president and CEO of Ann Kobs & Associates, a Cape Coral, FL-based consulting firm specializing in preparation for Joint Commission surveys. "Now, it’s mandated." She refers to standard EC 1.4, which became effective Jan. 1, 2002. You are required to participate in a communitywide drill that assesses communication, coordination, and the effectiveness of the organization’s and community’s command structures, Kobs explains. "If we look at what is required of the plan, it is far more detailed than before," says Kobs.
EDs should participate in their communitywide drills on an annual basis, says Katherine Haddix-Hill, RN, MSN, director of emergency services at Brandon (FL) Regional Hospital. "We participate in countywide drills along with the other hospitals in our community," she reports.
Here are ways to comply with the requirements:
• Participate in local disaster drills.
Haddix-Hill recommends contacting your county’s emergency command center or local emergency medical services (EMS) agency for information about participating in local disaster drills, such as those held at airports, nuclear power plants, and other agencies. You should involve local hospitals, all EMS agencies including fire and rescue, law enforcement agencies, area schools, and various other community agencies in your drills, depending on the type of disaster, she notes.
Haddix-Hill adds that evaluators from the county come to observe the hospital’s disaster drills. She says the ED is performing a mock disaster with the local EMS and airport authorities involving an airplane crash. "The EMS education coordinator is also another resource for disaster training," she adds.
• Assess the hazards in your community.
You’re required to conduct a hazard vulnerability analysis to identify threats in your community, says Kobs. "In the Miami area, the biggest hazard may be a hurricane. In the Midwest, floods may be of concern. If you are located near a nuclear power plant, the hazard may be nuclear contamination," she says. You must demonstrate that your staff members are competent to manage victims of the hazards you identify, she adds.
Scenarios for your communitywide drills should be based on this risk assessment, says Haddix-Hill. "Within our community, we identified the high-risk areas for potential disasters, such as an international airport, local theme park, international port, cruise ships, and hurricanes," she explains. Based on those areas, potential disaster scenarios include hurricanes, explosions, airplane crashes, cruise-ship fires, and bioterrorism attacks at area theme parks, says Haddix-Hill.
• Attend community meetings.
Kobs advises you to take any opportunity to attend public meetings, such as the Rotary Club, Lions Clubs, and the hospital auxiliary. She explains that the goal is to develop relationships with other leaders in the community.
Haddix-Hill says her facility participates in the countywide Emergency Medical Planning Council meetings, which address disaster planning. She adds that ED managers and directors from area hospitals also attend countywide Trauma Audit Committees and Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) meetings. "At the MMRS meeting, we did a tabletop exercise," she says.
The goal is to understand how other first responders fit into the emergency preparedness plan, says Kobs, adding that cooperative planning with other health care organizations in your community is required. "You should have the names, roles, and telephone numbers of individuals in their command structures," she adds.
For more information about the Joint Commission standards for disaster drills, contact:
• Katherine Haddix-Hill, RN, MSN, Director of Emergency Services, Brandon Regional Hospital, 119 Oakfield Drive, Brandon, FL 33511. Telephone: (813) 571-5156. Fax: (813) 681-4986. E-mail: [email protected].
• Ann Kobs, President/CEO, Ann Kobs & Associates, 166 S.E. 18th Terrace, Suite A, Cape Coral, FL 33990. Telephone: (239) 574-8318. Fax: (239) 574-8814. E-mail: [email protected].
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