Hospitals are places that are meant to heal people after a natural disaster strikes or health emergencies. However, they can become places of disasters and violence due to natural calamities, internal or external threats.
In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that the healthcare industry has more violent injuries than all other industries combined. As a result, hospitals need to be prepared to deal with emergencies that can strike the cities and their surrounding regions.
It’s due to these reasons that a hospital must have a disaster plan to deal with such situations. Let’s see how you can create one for your hospital.
1. Have a Mass Notification System
Whenever there’s an emergency in your hospital, the first thing that you need to do is inform your staff. If you can notify everyone of the emergency instantly, it can help them in staying our of harm’s way. This means that you’ll be able to save lives during the crisis.
To notify your hospital staff, you must have a notification plan to establish protocols for such an emergency. For this to be effective, you need an emergency notification system in your hospital that can be used to send out messages quickly and easily. You should also consider using a multilingual emergency notification system so that you can reach those who understand other languages too.
In addition, your disaster notification plan must outline how you’ll reach all those who don’t receive the text message notifications. This would call for a multi-channel approach where you can reach your staff and hospital customers through multiple modes. These include social media, emails, and voice messages. This can ensure maximum deliverability and will help you notify nearly everyone in your hospital.
The emergency notification plan should also highlight how you’ll inform the patients, hospital visitors, and staff when the premises is safe again. You should also consider how you’ll inform hospital staff who are away from the hospital or in other buildings. It’s also crucial to have a plan to notify the police and other emergency services.
2. Set Up Emergency Evacuation Procedures
The main rule that you need to follow during any disaster situation is to evacuate people from the affected areas if necessary. The fewer the number of people in the affected zone, the less will become victims. This is why your hospital disaster plan must elaborate on how you’ll evacuate people from the hot zones.
You should plan out all the evacuation routes and mention them in your plan. Identify the safe areas where you can direct all the people away from the disaster zone. It’s crucial to provide as much detail of the evacuation routes by providing the floor plans of the entire hospital complex. This can help anyone plan the evacuation even in your absence.
Your plan must also include secondary evacuation routes. These must be used when the primary evacuation routes are unusable. If possible, have a tertiary evacuation route too. This can help in vacating the premises quickly without causing loss of life.
3. Set Up Lockdown Procedures
During some emergencies, you may also need to have some lockdown procedures in place. This is especially true for hospital shootings, in which case many of them take place outside the hospital buildings. In such a situation, it’s crucial to lockdown your hospital facilities to ensure that the shooters don’t enter them.
You must lock down your patients, visitors, and staff to make sure that they remain safe. The disaster plan must also include how you’ll keep things running normally inside the shelter sites. It’s also important to find the shelter spots on your hospital campus and list them in your disaster plan.
Care should be taken when determining these shelters. They should be sites that have thick walls, doors, and minimal windows. This is to ensure that nobody can enter easily from outside or even cause harm to those who are inside. The shelters must also be equipped with first-aid kits, telephones, and distress alarms.
4. Make Emergency Contacts Available
As a part of your hospital disaster plan, you must also make all the relevant emergency information and contacts readily available and accessible. Anyone who finds out about the disaster should be able to contact the emergency response agencies. These include contacts of local hospitals, fire stations, police, etc. Making these easily accessible helps you respond quickly to the crisis.
5. Train Your Staff
Lastly, it’s critical to train your staff in responding to such emergencies. They should be made aware of the possible dangers and must have access to the relevant resources to save lives.
Make sure to share the emergency evacuation routes and protocol with them especially when you make updates to them. This will ensure they can escort other people in the hospital to safer areas and emergency shelters. Remember, if your staff doesn’t know your disaster plan, you will be endangering their safety and lives.
It’s necessary for every hospital to have a disaster plan. This plan should outline all the steps that you need to take when an emergency arises. You should sound an alarm using an emergency notification system to alert everyone. In addition, you should initiate the lockdown or evacuation depending on the situation. In addition, it’s crucial to define the evacuation routes and shelters, and you must train the hospital staff to carry these operations out.
What are the other things that you need to keep in mind when creating your hospital disaster plan? Let me know in the comments.