Community Benefit

In a Disaster, Practice Makes “Perfect”

June 13, 2011
CHI Health

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In a Disaster, Practice Makes “Perfect”

There have been a lot of small and large-scale emergencies across the country in recent months. It’s something we just can’t ignore – not as individuals, not as families, not as a health system and certainly not as a community. We published the following article on our company intranet last week as a way to highlight the importance of emergency preparedness planning to all of our nearly 9,000 employees across the area.

But then we decided, why keep it internal? Disaster response is a community effort. So if you’re so inclined, take a look at what we’re doing to prepare and then reflect on what your company (or family, for that matter) is doing. Are you prepared?


Practice Makes “Close to Perfect”
The tornado siren goes off – do you know what to do? What if you get word of a major bus crash sending a surge of patients to the Emergency Department – know where you need to be to help? Or, just imagine if there was a flood of historic proportions threatening to take out parts of the area (sound familiar?) – are you sure you know your role in the system’s disaster response?

As we’ve clearly seen in recent news, disasters can and do happen – and we need to make sure we’re prepared to respond.

CHI Health is Prepared – are you?
CHI Health maintains an Emergency Management Program designed to mitigate, prepare, respond and recover from emergencies and disasters. It all starts with an annual Hazard Vulnerability Assessment (HVA), which identifies specific risks to each hospital – including natural, technological, human/man-made or hazardous material threats. This in-depth assessment takes into account just how likely it is that each hazard would happen at a given location and then looks at its potential impact. The highest risks then float to the top of the assessment for each hospital, providing our safety teams guidance as to what events they should prepare their teams for.

And you – yes, YOU – are a part of that response team. You may have heard about or even been a part of a disaster drill at one campus or another. Each hospital is required to have a minimum of two exercises every year to test and evaluate our plans (called an Emergency Operations Plan, or EOP). The main focus of these drills is to practice our procedures and develop performance improvement plans to address any issues or concerns that arise.

  • Don’t know your role in a drill or, more importantly, a real-life incident? Talk to your manager.
  • Want to learn more about specific parts of the Emergency Operations Plan, such as patient tracking or the use of decontamination equipment? Alegent Health offers education and training throughout the year on key topics such as this. Check with your campus safety team.
  • Would you be called upon to serve in a leadership role on your campus in the event of an emergency? CHI Health works with the Center for Domestic Preparedness and the Center for Preparedness Education to offer staff high-level training – everything from clinical leadership to incident command and even facilities and security. Ask your manager if this training would be right for you.

The staff at CHI Health Mercy can tell you, all of the practice and preparation comes in handy when you’re faced with a real-life incident. The administration issued a Code Triage after word of a serious bus crash just east of town. Teams were set up and ready to receive victims well before the surge of patients arrived. Those involved say it ran like clockwork.

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