5 Tips for Hospital Emergency Preparedness

During an emergency, every second counts. Fast response is imperative, whether that is shutting down a piece of equipment to prevent damage or evacuating an area to avoid potential injuries.

For hospitals, preparation for any emergency or natural disaster and responding appropriately puts your facility at the ready to continue providing vital healthcare services to the community. Depending on your geographic region and facility specifics, you will need to take into account what might impact your operations and have a plan for every potential situation that might occur.

Here are a few tips to consider for your hospital’s emergency preparedness plan of action :

Account For The Risks Relevant To Your Facility and Geographic Area

Think about the possible natural disaster or emergency situations your hospital facility might incur. Once you understand these risks, write them down and brainstorm what locations in the facility, equipment, and supplies should be accounted for during these situations. A good example of this is facility basement operations in flood-prone environments. Should records be stored elsewhere? How about reserve supplies in case building utilities are shut off? Do essential medical equipment and operations need to be moved? Knowing the potential disasters for your area will help mitigate disaster before it strikes and this is possible with the help of a hospital facility management solution.

Another perspective to look into is external factors that might impact operations. An example of this might be how a hospital might handle a surge of patients in a community disaster like a mass shooting. Like in the case of the 2016 Orlando Shootings, being able to tap into additional resources and having an action plan in place could increase the probability of saving more lives.

What’s next? Move forward into organizing this collection of actionable insights into hospital emergency preparedness action plans that your team can easily follow. Consider learning more about how hospitals need to meet emergency preparedness requirements for Medicare.

Work With Community Resources, Coalitions, and Partners

Having a connection with the community can help especially if you need resources such as space, supporting services, and funds. Relationships with these community groups can support your emergency preparedness action plans to provide services during a natural disaster or other emergency. Hospitals and medical centers are places that people rely on during an emergency. In the event of a hospital evacuation, where will you be able to send patients? It’s especially important to know in advance where you can send people who don’t necessarily need emergency medical attention.

Advanced preparation to be a community resource will help smooth the way for efficient communication and service in the event of an emergency. Have information available for people who need help of all kinds. One such resource is the Disaster Distress Hotline which provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. In Portland, Oregon, there are BEECNs (short for Basic Earthquake Emergency Communication Node): places to go after a major earthquake to ask for emergency assistance. Washington D.C. hospitals are part of the DC Health and Medical Coalition, working together with community resources. Know where your area’s emergency shelters, county and local government programs, and food banks are located. Working together within the community is imperative for successful emergency response.

Update Your Response Procedures and Make It Accessible

Keeping your emergency preparedness action plans up to date and accessible to anyone should be a top priority. Information should be clear enough that staff, visitors or patients can take action in the event a situation arises. Many facilities are required to have stationary flip charts placed throughout the facility. However, flip charts are inherently outdated the moment they are produced. They are also stationary, which means they aren’t accessible to someone who is trapped elsewhere in the facility. ARC Facilities’ real-time facility emergency dashboard is accessible on mobile devices and includes all the information that anyone could need in an emergency, from anywhere.

When planning and updating your emergency procedures, it also helps to appoint stakeholders from each department early in the planning process who can stand ready to assist or lead in the execution of your emergency preparedness action plans. Responses may range from taking immediate action from an urgent threat or planning a phased evacuation, and it is essential to involve those people taking action from the beginning.

Rehearse With Your Team

To keep medical and administrative personnel educated on emergency procedures it should be standard practice to host regular drills for your facility. Not only does this keep emergency preparedness top of mind but it gives you the chance to test your plans for any weaknesses you can improve upon. A properly-prepared disaster plan for a healthcare facility includes having access to reserve medical and administrative staff so contact them as part of your response rehearsal.

A Final Resource to Tie it All Together

Identifying risks, creating plans, and training your team are all vital steps for being prepared for when the next emergency strikes. But when it comes time to put those plans into action, the key is communication.

ARC Facilities’ healthcare facilities management and Emergency Module does just that by digitizing your emergency and basic building plans and making it available on any mobile device. So study these tips, then put your plans into action as it could help save lives.