Public health officials play an important role in disaster planning and emergency preparedness. Specifically, nurses are involved in disaster planning and preparedness together with response and recovery. This section addresses the role of nurses in executing the different aspects of disaster management.
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The planning phase starts with understanding the disaster cycle and being able to be involved at every stage. This phase also involves a myriad of activities that mainly fall under the disaster mitigation category. Some of the activities that nurses can carry out at this stage include creating awareness through education and disaster prevention measures. Such measures include activities that minimize or eliminate hazards, risk reduction, immunization programs, and public education together with others. However, the focus should also be on the effects that a disaster may have on the hospital set-up.
Disaster preparedness is defined as the measures undertaken to prepare for and reduce the effects associated with disasters (Labrague et al., 2018). This phase involves predicting the impacts of a disaster and coming up with mitigation measures to help the affected individuals. The role of nurses in this phase is to provide immediate and effective medical care to the maximum number of the affected individuals in a bid to reduce mortality and morbidity. Additionally, the nursing objectives here include preparing staff members together with institutional resources for an effective response in case a disaster occurs. Similarly, nurses have to create community awareness by educating people on the sequential steps that they can take at individual and organizational levels. Additionally, nurses have to be prepared for capacity building and work with multidisciplinary teams. Finally, nurses have to know about policies and protocols that should be followed when responding to a disaster.
Disaster response involves activities that take place once a disaster happens. Actions taken at this phase should be geared towards minimizing the effects of the disaster, and the affected people get immediate care and support. Therefore, the roles of nurses include determining the size of the event, establishing health needs, and setting priorities. After identifying the actual public health needs, nurses should then determine the resources that are required for an effective response. Additionally, nurses should be in a position to work with other response teams, including government and non-governmental agencies, to minimize the effects of the occurrence. Ultimately, nurses should maintain a merged chain of command and ensure proper communication to avoid confusion and repetition of tasks. In summary, nurses are involved in immediate post-disaster intervention measures, including treatment and providing care based on the present needs. Additionally, they establish outreach programs as a way of supporting the affected communities. One of the best ways to manage disasters is to come up with triage as it helps to assign priorities in cases where resources are limited (Lerner et al., 2015).
The recovery phase entails restoring conditions to the way they were before the disaster occurred. At this stage, the nurses’ roles include carrying out surveillance prevention exercises to address epidemic outbreaks. Such activities may involve vaccinations together with offering counseling services. Others include providing water and food supplies. Reconstruction activities involve setting up shelters and ultimately training volunteers on how to handle different situations. On top of the physical needs, victims of disasters need psychological support. Therefore, nurses listen to, encourage, and offer compassion to the victims. The final step involves offering follow-up services like home care and visits, teaching on hygiene, and community clean-up services together with others. In collaboration with other agencies, nurses can also be part of the teams that carry out an impact assessment.
Miami-Dade County: Emergency Management Plan
Miami-Dade County has come up with a comprehensive emergency management plan to address the different disasters that can occur in the region. The plan covers each phase of preparedness and disaster planning. The 238-page document highlights and expounds each stage of disaster management comprehensively.
The plan also accounts for the community’s needs. The emergency management plan for this county is built around addressing community needs. For instance, an emergency can only be declared after an event has damaged the socioeconomic and infrastructural systems of a given community (Miami-Dade County, 2017). Additionally, the plan includes thought beyond the written reports. For example, training the involved stakeholders on disaster preparedness is one of the key areas of the plan. Similarly, there is evidence of a record-keeping system for resources, treatment, and identification of victims. Aspects of record maintenance and protection, before, during, and after a disaster has occurred, are addressed extensively in the plan. Finally, the plan outlines a comprehensive backup plan in case certain options fail. For instance, backup generators and communication systems are addressed.
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Plan for Addressing Mass Casualty Situations
To address mass casualty situations, the plan has a section titled Miami-Dade County Mass Casualty Incident Plan. This section offers comprehensive guidelines to ensure collaborative efforts between the leadership teams and support agencies to ensure that mass casualty events are addressed efficiently. The plan defines the different occurrences that can be termed as mass casualty together with measures that should be undertaken to address the same. Different roles for the involved teams and agencies are elucidated clearly. Therefore, in case of a disaster, it suffices to conclude that Miami-Dade County is prepared enough to deal with mass casualty situations.
Labrague, L. J., Hammad, K., Gloe, D. S., McEnroe-Petitte, D. M., Fronda, D. C., Obeidat, A. A., … Mirafuentes, E. C. (2018). Disaster preparedness among nurses: A systematic review of literature. International Nursing Review, 65(1), 41-53.
Lerner, E. B., McKee, C. H., Cady, C. E., Cone, D. C., Colella, M. R., Cooper, A., Swienton, R. E. (2015). A consensus-based gold standard for the evaluation of mass casualty triage systems. Prehospital Emergency Care, 19(2), 267-271.
Miami-Dade County. (2017). Miami-Dade County, Florida: Comprehensive emergency management plan (CEMP). Web.