DISASTER PREPARATION By Disaster Preparation Over the recent years, the world has experienced a rise in the number of disasters that has been consistently occurring. These disasters have led to unimaginable loss of life, property and displacement of people, thus affecting millions of people. No person can stop disasters from occurring and no one is immune against disasters. Nonetheless, people have a chance to reduce the degree of damage that disasters can cause through making sure that exhibit the highest level of preparedness. Registered Nurses (RNs) are one of the largest health care practitioners, yet, a large percentage of them are not well prepared for disasters due to several reasons such as the legal structure or the lack of proper emergency systems. All RNs have an ethical duty and responsibility to ensure that the patients’ health are safeguarded and thus for this reason, they play a significantly important role in disaster management. In this context, the paper will discuss both the various disaster management plans that nurses have at home and at work, and the challenges faced by nurse volunteers during cases of community wide disasters.
The nature of disasters require that RNs and other health practitioners to respond quickly in order to save number of lives. RNs with no plans in place to cater for their own needs such as family and pets can have a relatively hard time in participating or carrying out their ethical obligations during disasters. For instance, when the Hurricane Katrina occurred, many RNs ignored and aborted their work obligation so as to care for their families and homes, and thus the casualties were exposed to even more danger of losing their lives. In a bid to increase preparedness, nurses should ensure that they have disaster kits at home, in cars and even at their workplace. This could enable people to be treated at various places thus easing congestion that is usually witnessed in hospitals during disasters.
Equally important, the government and other agencies have a duty to ensure that nurses feel assured that their families are protected and safe during disasters and calamities. One way that the RNs can have assurance about their families protection is by working coherently with them to ensure that the public, including children, have attained the knowledge and skills required for coping in disaster. For instance, children and adolescents can be engaged in activities such as formulating and exercising preparedness plans, preparing and learning how to use disaster kits, familiarizing with school emergency procedures and learning about the potential hazards that they can be faced with, including emergency exits and evacuation routes. Doing this will not only assure the RNs that their families are safe but will also act as a long term benefits since the children will have the opportunity to carry out first aid procedures in case of any emergency.
Comparatively, each government needs a competent set personnel of public health practitioners that will be able to provide the highly needed solutions for today’s health problems ensuing from acts of terrorism and natural disasters. On the other hand, RNs and other public health nurses need to have a set of highly “ dedicated, resourceful, and visionary leaders” (Association of State and Territorial Directors of Nursing [ASTDN], 2008, p. 4). This will enable the health department to develop, cultivate and maintain a strong and efficient nursing and public health workforce. Working amidst the chaos of a disaster surge demands a high level of flexibility and proficiency practice from the RNs and other nursing volunteers. However, the small number of nurses cannot meet the number of patients requiring attention more so during disasters. In this respect therefore, the nurses must thence be prepared to advocate and campaign for the community in order for the government to the number of public health nurses more so during catastrophic and disastrous moments.
Many nursing volunteers are faced by multiple challenges during moments of disaster. However, there is a very big challenge in terms of meeting the surge capacity of patients during catastrophic moments. To meet the surge capacity of the ever increasing demand for medical treatment and services, it is vital that the healthcare system expands rapidly beyond the normal capability. The high number of patients has increased the workload in hospitals and other health care facilities and can arguably be responsible for the high level of fatigue among nurses and volunteers. To be effective, the healthcare system has to depend upon the surge capacity of its personnel or workforce and thus it is the duty of the government to make sure that there is increase of nurses in hospitals through recruitment programs. In cases of shortage of nurses, the government can also look at re-employing the retired or retrenched nurses to meet the surge capacity.
Association of State and Territorial Directors of Nursing (2008). Every state health department needs a public health nursing leader.
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