Emergency Preparedness – Are You Ready?

Angie SzumlinskiUncategorized

As we soldier through the winter months, it is a great time to think about emergency preparedness.  When we think about emergencies, we often think of the usual winter events: snow storms, blizzards, power outages, staffing challenges, etc.  However, as we have learned in recent years, there is more to an emergency preparedness plan that moving snow and salting parking lots.  This is a good time to review  your current disaster manual and ensure that you have the latest and greatest information available to maintain a safe environment.

First on the list, keeping your home warm and your residents safe.  In a recent visit to a non-licensed assisted living community, the boiler system was down.  It was about 30 degrees outside and residents were operating small space heaters in their individual locked apartments.  Although the community was not licensed, they were caring for elderly residents requiring assistance.  Remember, the NFPA #101 Life Safety Code (2000 edition) states that portable electric space heaters are prohibited in smoke compartments where residents are present in skilled nursing facilities.  Even if your community doesn't fall under these guidelines, allowing the use of portable electric space heaters in resident care areas increases risk to your residents.  Remember, if it is important enough for the Life Safety Code to include this provision, then it is important enough!

Second, Ebola. Everyone is asking about guidelines for managing this frightening disease.  The good news is that in our environment, the risk of contracting Ebola is relatively low.  That said, the infection control program within your home should include the basic processes for preventing the spread of infection with a special focus on hand hygiene.  There are several informational links on Ebola provided below.  Consider reviewing the information, updating your infection control manual, and educating residents, families and caregivers on the updated protocols.  Remember, it is important to keep everyone informed of the latest updates to facility protocols.

Lastly, an event that instills fear in all providers, the risk of workplace violence such as an active shooter.  There was a time that this was not a concern in our settings. However, times have changed and the risk of experiencing this type of event has increased dramatically.  How do we prepare to address this type of issue?

A new healthcare facility emergency preparedness resource is available that incorporates “Active Shooter Planning into Healthcare Facility Emergency Operation Plans.”  This resource was released and posted to the Public Health Emergency website in collaboration with the ASPR's Divisions of Health System Policy and Tactical Programs, Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Healthcare Public Health Sector Coordinating Council.  The documents show how government and private sector partners can work together to benefit our healthcare and public health communities.  This overview, along with the more comprehensive “2014 Active Shooter Planning and Response in a Healthcare Setting” guide, provides valuable tools for all healthcare locations including academic institutions, hospitals, long term care centers, outpatient centers, and physician offices.

In the near future, an updated version of the “Active Shooter Planning and Response in a Healthcare Setting” guide will be released.  It will include sections on law enforcement tactics and considerations as well as integrated medical and psychological response.  

As we begin a fresh new year in 2015, take a moment to prepare and please contact your Evolucent Risk Manager for assistance!  Be safe and have a wonderful new year!

Ebola Update from MDCH – December 5, 2014

1. Factsheet: CDC's Ebola Response Team – December 2, 2014

2. Interim Guidance for U.S. Hospital Preparedness for Patients with Possible or Confirmed Ebola Virus Disease: A Framework for a Tiered Approach – December 2, 2014

3. Interim Guidance for Preparing Frontline Healthcare Facilities for Patients with Possible Ebola Virus Disease – December 2, 2014

4. Interim Guidance for Preparing Ebola Assessment Hospitals – December 2, 2014

5. Interim Guidance for Preparing Ebola Treatment Centers – December 2, 2014

6. Current Ebola Treatment Centers – December 2, 2014

7. OSHA Fact Sheet: PPE Selection Matrix for Occupational Exposure to Ebola Virus – November 24, 2014

8. Information on the Survivability of the Ebola Virus in Medical Waste – November 21, 2014

9. Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) Requirements and Implications Related to Ebola Virus Disease – November 21, 2014

10. iTunes U app for iPad and iPhone: The Nebraska Ebola Method- For Clinicians
Course is also available through Moodle: