Emergency nurses have a difficult task because a calamity needing international aid occurs on average once every seven days. Many people worldwide have perished in recent years because of natural disasters. Disasters such as Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Irma in Florida have compelled healthcare professionals to reassess their procedures in the wake of such occurrences (Kalanlar, 2018). When tragedy strikes a community, nurses are often among the first responders, requiring familiarity with their position in emergency communications and disaster planning.
Planning a reaction to a disaster to minimize damage and aid in recovery is the purpose of disaster preparation. Nurses are the perfect leaders in disaster mitigation because of their competence in basic health care, vast experience in multidisciplinary cooperation, and excellent collaborative abilities. Preparing for an emergency begins with developing a strategic emergency management plan (SEMP) that anticipates both the most probable and unforeseen disasters in an area. When catastrophes occur, the SEMP is an important document that serves as an internal and external guide to disaster response (Lane, 2021). Additionally, it covers the means of gathering intelligence on potential threats and formulating a standard reaction in the event of an emergency.
Identifying the operational responsibilities and duties of both internal and external entities is only one of many other steps. During a crisis, it is critical that all people involved understanding their obligations and the responsibilities of others (Martono et al., 2019). The names, phone numbers, and job titles of emergency responders should be conspicuously displayed. Additional considerations include defining critical service workers, thereby ensuring a consistent level of emergency staff coverage if a crisis strikes. Standardized methods for communicating in the event of system failure should be created.
There should be a uniform procedure for acquiring and managing emergency supplies and equipment. Such a routine includes a maintenance plan, a location monitoring schedule, and information on where to purchase extra tools and supplies. As part of regional orientation, training should be provided to all employees on a regular basis (Kalanlar, 2018). If a disaster disrupts their normal operations, each institution should devise a specific strategy to proceed. To ensure that facilities can continue to deliver essential services, the leadership and staff should uphold careful planning for effective disaster management.
An initial step in reacting to a disaster is identifying its occurrence and implementing the strategies during preparation. Search-and-rescue efforts, firefighting, and the construction of shelters for displaced people are examples of external reactions. To give the best possible care for patients, nurses should have a thorough comprehension of the disaster recovery plan, as well as a clear understanding of the circumstances surrounding the catastrophe (Martono et al., 2019). For example, many deaths, patients with severe injuries, victims of flooding, widespread power outages, flattened homes, and extensive damage recorded due to the strong winds and tidal surges are reported after a hurricane. In addition to the public, nurses, firefighters, and other first responders are also affected by the disaster.
Triage and distribution of casualties are two of the most significant aspects of disaster response. It is essential for nurses who work in disaster zones to be aware that the patients they are caring for may be suffering from various physical and mental problems over and above injuries emanating from the ensuing catastrophe. Effective nursing has been described as the keystone to mass casualty management and provision of the most significant benefit for a large number of wounded people (Lane, 2021). Treatment priorities may shift depending on the sort of catastrophe, the materials, and the resources available.
Attributable to the many catastrophe triage systems available, facilities need to decide in advance the approach they will utilize. The Simple Triage and Rapid Transport (START) approach is a basic triage and quick transfer technique used in disaster response. In less than a minute, the triage nurse uses the START tool to assess patients quickly and determine whether they are red, yellow, green, or black. The color red indicates that medical attention is instantly needed. Patients in this group have diseases or injuries that might result in death or limb loss; thus, they are prioritized for treatment (Martono et al., 2019). While patients in the yellow category need urgent treatment, it can wait until the red-tagged patients have been treated. While green indicates minimum care is required, patients with a black tag, on the other hand, require end-of-life care that the medical team cannot provide.
A community’s ability to return to normal after a disaster depends on immediate and long-term recovery efforts. Short-term recovery comprises reactivating critical life support systems and returning patients to their home country. When patients and their families are alienated, it can be challenging to deal with the psychological effects of the separation. The psychological stress of family separation can be lessened by establishing a strategy for safely transporting patients home or to their assigned institution as soon as feasible (Martono et al., 2019). Additionally, it decreases the strain on emergency care facilities and the person who must be mobilized in times of crisis.
After a disaster, long-term rehabilitation involves acts such as repairing infrastructure and destroyed property, as well as offering assistance to victims and their relatives. Physical damage is an obvious sign of a disaster, but it is not necessarily there in every case. These include pandemics, bio-, and cyber-terrorism, as well as natural calamities. Even for those who do not experience physical harm, the psychological effects might last for years (Lane, 2021). If a disaster is not adequately managed, a victim’s physical, psychological, spiritual, or mental well-being may be affected for a long time after a traumatic occurrence. Emotional responses to events, loss of capacity to function, becoming overwhelmed, and greater consumption of resources are all characteristics of these reactions.
Disasters can happen at any moment and in any place. Nursing during a crisis necessitates a coordinated effort by specialists from the public, care delivery, and private service sectors. When calamity strikes, nurses should be prepared to deal with the effects of man-made as well as natural causes. Strong leadership is essential to deal with the unique combination of issues and preparations required for such events. When a natural disaster, such as a storm or hurricane, hits a town, nurses are there to aid individuals in need. Nursing leaders will highly require awareness, readiness, political prowess, and, most importantly, collaboration on all levels as catastrophes, both human and natural, continue to augment.
Kalanlar, B. (2018). Effects of disaster nursing education on nursing students’ knowledge and preparedness for disasters. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 28, 475-480.
Lane, S. J. (2021). Post-acute care decision-making in emergency preparedness: A case study of Hurricanes Florence and Michael. The Journal of Health Administration Education, 38(3), 769-776.
Martono, M., Satino, S., Nursalam, N., Efendi, F., & Bushy, A. (2019). Indonesian nurses’ perception of disaster management preparedness. Chinese Journal of Traumatology, 22(1), 41-46.