The politics and policy of disaster response and public health emergency preparedness

The politics and policy of disaster response and public health emergency preparedness I was able to see how the disaster health policies discussed within Congress and members of government affect the facilities in which we work. Depending on which facility I am working in for the week, there is a governing body that requires the facilities to have an emergency preparedness plan. Depending on the body that governs, the individual facility must have a plan that meets the minimum requirements set-up.

At 1415 today, my facility held its quarterly fire drill on second shift. While the staff was not aware this would occur, I had already been notified by the maintenance director who is in charge of hosting the disaster drills once on each shift quarterly. At the sound of the fire alarm going off, an announcement is made notifying staff that there is a code red and the area is also identified via fire panels and verbalized over the speaker system. The fire panels light up red where there is a fire or in this case where the alarm was pulled. This is something staff is taught during their training with the facility upon hire and they practice during drills such as these. Staff members are expected to participate regardless of the department ensuring that all residents within the facility are taken to a safe location, the hallways are cleared, and everyone is accounted for. One individual from each unit is tasked with taking a fire extinguisher to the area announced to help with putting out the fire. After the fire is noted as clear. A head count is done, the in-service is signed off and staff are given pointers where improvement is needed. Each unit discuss best practices and all questions and concerns are addressed.

Fire drills only prepare for one type of disaster but based on the facilities location there are other drills that are practiced in an effort to prepare for a disaster such hurricanes or tornadoes. Disaster preparedness is a continuous and integrated process resulting from a wide range of activities and resources rather than from a distinct activity by itself. It requires the contributions of many different areas ranging from training and logistics, to health care to institutional development (Barton, 2009). The idea behind the training exercise is to create a teaching moment that serves as preparation in the event there is an actual disaster.

Health policy does impact nursing practice in this arena greatly. Disaster health policies affect all those impacted by a disaster, including health and human service responders, hospital-based receivers, suppliers, and community members (Mason, Gardner, Outlaw, & O’Grady, 2016). The acute care facility I work in is governed by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). AHCA gives a 7-page outline for preparation of a comprehensive emergency management plan (CEMP) that each facility is required to have upon submission for review and approval by county emergency management agencies, (AHCA, 1994). Nurses have to actively participate and get involved with policy making because it affects the disaster plan requirements in the areas that we work in and the communities we serve.