The American Hospital Association (AHA) has partnered with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other national organizations for National Preparedness Month, which kicks off September 9 in Washington, D.C.  The focus on preparedness will provide Americans with a variety of opportunities to learn how they can prepare for disasters – both natural and manmade.

State and local governments, individual communities, private businesses and non-profit organizations are planning events to promote preparedness in homes, businesses and schools.  DHS is asking hospitals to help educate their employees, patients and members of their communities on what each can do to be better prepared in the event of a disaster.

To help the public gear up, DHS has developed Ready.gov (www.ready.gov), which offers extensive information on the type of threats facing America, and a step-by-step planner on how citizens can prepare.  For example, Step One suggests preparing an emergency kit of supplies, and includes a list of recommended items and how much food would be needed per person per day.  Step Two advises planning what to do in the event of an emergency, including whether to stay in one place or evacuate, and how to develop a family communications plan in case members of a family are not in one place when disaster strikes.  Step Three suggests how to prepare for specific threats such as a biological or chemical attack.  Ready.gov also includes materials that can be posted in hospital clinics and waiting areas.

As we’ve seen recently after the havoc wreaked in Florida by Hurricane Charley, hospitals have plans in place to deal with the unexpected, including transferring patients to other facilities and setting up temporary field hospitals to care for ill and injured neighbors.

Because of your experience as a hospital leader in dealing with crises and your position in the community, consider putting the following items on your to do list:

  • Share this advisory with your human resources and public relations departments, so they can in turn get the information to hospital employees, patients and the community.
  • Contact local officials to find out about plans for preparedness activities in your community.
  • Consider hosting an activity, such as holding first aid seminars or CPR training.

Working together with our communities, hospitals can continue to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the people we serve … including being prepared for the unexpected.

 

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