Mitigating Continuous Risk: Mass Disaster
Prepare Early for an Efficient Response
Hospitals’ risk and concerns differ from most other facilities and accept many people in the event of a mass disaster in their community. Natural disasters, chemical releases, large car accidents and other situations like active shooters and terrorist attacks are all cause for concern, and are scenarios hospitals must prepare for.
Natural disasters and weather are out of our control, but they can carry serious risk not only to infrastructure, but also public health. When these scenarios arise, hospitals must be prepared to accept patients, possibly many that are injured from the disaster. Since the weather patterns and seasons are predictable to a degree, we can assume there may be injuries from hurricanes from June to November, but earthquakes can be harder to predict and injuries from these may be in the hundreds. This is when up-to-date training comes in. Up-to-date training means hospital staff are better prepared to treat and respond because they are trained on the latest protocols and have the information fresh in their mind, enabling them to cope and respond in a more efficient manner.
For many local hospitals, the risk of needing to treat patients from a chemical/nuclear release is a growing concern and is being trained for more vigilantly. These instances are not predictable and can injure hundreds depending on severity. To mitigate this risk of unprepared staff, hospitals must practice drills for responding to these situations. The saying, “how you practice is how you’ll perform,” is absolutely true. Drills should be practiced as if it is a real threat and from start to finish, including setting up triage locations and decontamination tents.
Although not a new concern, large car accidents with serious injuries are a mass disaster that without proper training, can be a risk to hospitals. In these common situations, many doctors will need to focus their attention on incoming victims and nurses will have to make room in a full emergency room for them. Tests, labs, and possibly surgeries will take place in a short amount of time with all hands on deck, while still focusing their attention on already present patients. Many hospitals are used to these situations, but proper training and work in the field will help to give staff practice on how to easily transition into an emergency situation of mass disaster, while still treating other patients.
A problem that hospitals can sometimes run into during a disaster is the lack of blood supply to meet the needs of patients involved in a mass disaster. Since mass disaster is not always predictable, it is critical to keep extra blood supply readily available in your hospital. If you need to get it from other area hospital, it may be too late. Plan ahead and mitigate the risk of insufficient blood by keeping extra on hand.
Hospitals face specific risks that other facilities do not, one of them being the possibility of mass disaster. Early preparation in the form of training and real-life practice will make for a more efficient response and mean a better prepared staff to deal with these difficult situations. What types of training do you conduct to mitigate the risk of mass disaster rattling your hospital staff? Let us know in the comments below!