Role and Responsibilities of a Nurse in Relation to a Disaster

Subject: Nursing
Pages: 3
Words: 566
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: College


By definition, a disaster is a sudden catastrophic event, which results in extensive disruption, damage and general distress. Emergency management of disasters is the creation of emergency routines for communities to follow, which can increase the preparedness against hazards, or help deal with disasters. Coping with emergencies is a very complex activity, involving not only the populace but also numerous organizations, where every person needs to know their responsibilities. Disasters are a high priority for public health, and its staff should be able to interact with its communities and its internal and external partners. Community nurses in particular play a number of essential functions in emergency management and in achieving the National Preparedness Goal (Stanley et al., 2013, p.4-5)

Community Nurse

Public health nursing is as relevant to the prevention, protection against, mitigation, response and recovery from disasters and hazards, as any other involved organization, if not more so. Community nurses possess a number of inter-personal skills which can be very useful in a dire situation, like quick needs assessment, community education, and organizing of people. They also, of course, are valuable as acute care replacements in hospitals and triage personnel, able to conduct medical therapies and provide supplies.

Community nurses play a very important part in the prevention phase of calamities since they have the skills and knowledge about how to develop emergency management plans and policies. During the “nondisaster” stage (before any event has occurred) they can assess communities to determine sources of dangers, educate the people about these dangers, conduct drills to test the plans they prepared as well as provide at least rudimentary healthcare training to volunteers. During the “predisaster” stage (when the danger is imminent) they are obligated to notify the officials, as well as to conduct public warnings and, if needed, oversee the evacuation.

During the disaster, the nurses are to aid in search and rescue activities (only if their own safety is ensured) and help prevent any further injury or destruction. After that, they are to help the community to recover from the event, making efforts to prevent future reoccurrences while having learned from the experience (Stanley et al., 2013, p.5-8).

Local disaster preparedness

Hamilton County, Ohio has a number of contingencies for all three stages of dealing with disasters. They have a site, which contains most of the information the general populace might need in case of a disaster, educating citizens on how to act during these events, and what awareness systems are in place. Several alert systems have been integrated into the existing population warning systems: the Emergency Alert System, National Warning System, Weather Radio All Hazards and Wireless Emergency Alerts. These are already operational, although the latter is still undergoing integration into the infrastructure.

The city has a number of contingency plans in case of fires, floods, tornadoes, incidents with dangerous materials, earthquakes, droughts, hazardous weather and several others. It also accounts for contributing factors, some of which are seasonal weather patterns, day and night cycle, and events, which may have an effect on the severity of the hazard (Emergency Operations Plan, par.1-4)


Community nurses play an essential role during hazardous events and are with their skills cover a lot of responsibilities before, during and after a disaster. Their role is clearly illustrated in the local Emergency Operations Plan, which accounts for them when discussing Functional Needs Support Services, Mass Care, and several others.


Emergency Operations Plan. (n.d.). Web.

Stanley, S. A., Cole, S., McGill, J., Millet, C., & Morse, D. (2013). The Role of the Public Health Nurse In Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Recovery. Web.