Disaster Management in Nursing Practice

Disaster management is a process that involves four main actions, with all levels of government and organizations needing to plan, prepare, respond, and recover from human-made or natural emergencies. In Florida, the Department of Health is responsible for these activities. Florida’s counties are represented by local branches of this department, and follow a similar plan supported by the state (Florida Department of Health, 2018). Disaster management is closely connected to healthcare, which places nurses on the front lines of all emergency operations.

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Nursing Roles

Nurses participate in all phases of disaster management, having unique duties and responsibilities. First, nurses prepare themselves, as well as their facilities, for disasters by acquiring the necessary skills and learning about public health (Veenema et al., 2016). They also distribute this knowledge throughout the community, promoting readiness for emergencies. Second, they participate in various drills, exercises, and the planning process by representing the needs of healthcare providers at local, state, and federal levels. Furthermore, their contribution in the response phase is vital – nurses care for people who have suffered from disasters, provide indirect support to other professionals, cover shifts for fellow nurses, and collect and record data about emergencies (Veenema et al., 2016). Finally, they help the community to recover by assessing the damage and researching new ways to improve public health and ensure organizational readiness for future events.


Broward County, Florida, follows the federal initiative designed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and implemented in the US’s largest cities called Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI) (Florida Department of Health in Broward, 2018). All programs executed by the state have a detailed plan of action for each disaster management phase – a variety of practical planning resources can be seen on the official website. They describe preparedness, response, and recovery networks for many situations such as child care during disasters, rural communities’ protection, hurricane management, nuclear dangers, evacuations, and active shootings. Nonetheless, the plans highlight a lack of backup options, with some considerations only being mentioned occasionally.

Mass Casualty Situations

Mass casualty situations are addressed in several documents, the most detailed of them being a planning checklist. This resource describes strategies, available options, and elements that should be included in plans of local governments. For instance, specific communication channels such as staff call-back protocols are mentioned (Florida Department of Health, n.d.). Security and control-related issues are also addressed, as well as specific surge space expanding activities, treatment systems, decontamination plans, staffing numbers, and supply lists. Other documents provide additional resources for planning and staffing in case of mass casualties.


Nurses play a significant role in disaster management – they disseminate knowledge, care for people, and develop improvement strategies. Broward county’s local resources focus on community preparation for such disasters as hurricanes and other natural hazards. Thus, the community needs are sufficiently addressed, and the plan reveals a high level of readiness and attention to detail. The program and toolkit for assessing and tracking resources and providing treatment are also present. It could be argued that some backup options are lacking. Mass casualty situations, nonetheless, are discussed sufficiently, providing concrete information.


Florida Department of Health in Broward. (2018). Cities Readiness Initiative. Web.

Florida Department of Health. (2018). Healthcare system preparedness overview. Web.

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Florida Department of Health. (n.d.). Hospital mass casualty incident planning checklist. Web.

Veenema, T. G., Griffin, A., Gable, A. R., MacIntyre, L., Simons, R. N., Couig, M. P.,… Larson, E. (2016). Nurses as leaders in disaster preparedness and response — A call to action. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 48(2), 187-200.

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