Emergency Preparedness and Response

Emergency preparedness refers to the practice of organizing and coordinating machinery, drugs, programs, and trained personnel in order to respond effectively to the cases of emergency that involve public health. Emergency response involves the act of reacting to the urgent unmet needs of the population experiencing challenges. It requires the health organizations and other stakeholders to prepare the appropriate resources, both human and logistical in order to respond faster to the emergency cases. The legal and regulatory system perform an important role in responding to various emergencies of public health, including accidents, occurrence of infectious diseases, and the disasters that occur from harsh weather events. For instance, The United States has such laws that provide an infrastructure for preparing and responding to the public health emergency. The laws authorize the government to declare an emergency, grant the responders with the authority to act appropriately in responding to the emergencies. Emergency preparedness and response is important for everyone, which makes it important for people, organization, entity, and the authority to prepare and respond fully to the emergencies and disasters. It is important to obtain adequate information about a population in order to protect and secure its health. Emergency response and preparedness interventions should incorporate demographic information in order to respond appropriately to the disasters. Communication, training, and adequate resources are necessary for achieving appropriate preparedness and response to the emergency cases. Therefore, it is important to include the healthcare professionals, organization, community, and authority in the planning process for emergency preparedness and response.

Literature Review

Emergencies may refer to large catastrophes, crises, or disasters, which get out of control and hinder the health care organizations from performing their normal operations (Goldberg and Skidmore 2). Multiple emergencies can affect the safety of the patients and the ability of the organization to respond to the disaster and provide treatment, care, and routine services. Emergency preparedness in the hospitals requires sufficient staffing capabilities. The organizations should identify important personnel during the emergency, including nurses, ancillary staff, physicians, and the management. The staff should be able to respond to the emergencies, which may require them to have family and personal preparedness plan in order to arrange for alternative needs during the disaster (Goldberg and Skidmore 2). Nursing shortages and a lack of surge capacity usually affect the ability of the health care organizations to respond to various disasters. The hospitals should take care of the staff during the disaster by providing shelter, food, and assistance, with medical, behavioral, and social health issues (Goldberg and Skidmore 2). It is also important to train the staff in preparedness on different topics, including their roles during the disasters, and the need to assume the duties outside their normal roles.

The public health mainly utilizes the measures based on population, including disease surveillance in order to protect the public broadly (Heather and Rebecca 530). Public health emergencies may occur due to state instability, war, and the varying dynamics of a population. There is insufficient information in the public health emergency preparedness literature concerning the use of demographic methods or data. Studies show that emergency preparedness levels usually correlates with the demographic features, such as the size of a particular community, migration flows and age (Heather and Rebecca 531). Effective emergency preparedness plans should therefore understand the characteristics of the population, and demographic methods. For instance, effective preparedness to a disease requires the planners to estimate the number of individuals that require inoculation. The pandemics usually affect a particular age group more than others, and various types of public health emergencies can affect various populations and different segments within the populations differently (Heather and Rebecca 533). Therefore, it is important for healthcare organizations to understand the demographic characteristics in order to prepare and respond to various disasters within a population.

In the United States, the government employs various measures that address the emergencies and disasters in public health. For instance, twenty-four states in America usually allow the government to declare emergency on certain issues affecting the public health (Moore 104). Declaration of state of emergency helps to address the disasters by mobilizing the appropriate health-related resources, such as manpower and government organs. In the process of declaring a state of emergency, the government provides information concerning the nature of the disaster, the geographical region of the state that experience the disaster, the declaration duration, and the intervention resources and powers employed (Paul 1314). The provision of information and different types of support can enhance the preparedness and response to the health emergencies and disasters. The declaration of state of emergency can therefore help to respond to the disasters because it provides the quarantine and isolation measures, which contribute in addressing the disasters.

A public health emergency plan can help to address the health related disasters depending on how the organization develops them. In the United States, the health department usually develops the emergency plan (Gibson, Theodore and Sterling 45). The majority of the states usually review their emergency plans every year in order to enhance their effectiveness. The plan includes various issues such as communication with the public concerning the public health disaster, and coordination of responses among the local agencies and states. Communication with the public is important because it creates awareness among people concerning the emergencies, which will enable them to take appropriate measures. The increased communication between the workers and the managers is also necessary to respond to the emergencies and disasters (Sherry, Kathleen and Sally 304).

The health emergency plan should also include the distribution of drugs and other medical supplies, evacuation of people, guidelines for treatment and vaccination, continuity of the legal system, and consideration of the cultural norms (Paul 1324). The government should provide the responders with the authority to access health resources during a disaster in order to respond to them effectively. The emergency preparedness and response programs should give the responders free medical services and resources in order to prevent the spread of the disasters. In America, the states have developed legislation to join the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) in order to address the healthcare issues. This contributes significantly in responding to the emergencies because it provides liability protection for the health professionals and state agents who provide support to the victims. The ability and willingness of the workers to respond to a disaster is necessary for responding to the situation effectively. The willingness to respond relates with the organizational commitment to use safety, including safeguarding the employees by using various policies and procedures of respiratory protection and vaccination (Sherry, Kathleen and Sally 303).

Discussion and Implications

Adequate nursing staff is one of the key factors necessary in responding to the health emergencies and disasters (Goldberg and Skidmore 2). The inadequate number of health professionals usually makes it difficult for the healthcare organizations to prepare and respond to the health emergencies. Therefore, it is necessary for the organizations to employ adequate number of health professionals in order to address the health challenges. The high number of staff will help reduce the workload, thus ensuring that they respond to the challenges in good time. In addition to adequate number of staff, the healthcare organizations should provide various types of support to them in order to enhance their efficiency. It is necessary to provide training programs for them in order to enhance their knowledge and skills, necessary in addressing the emergencies and disasters. It is important to train them in various areas, including knowledge about the health of the clients, their duties and roles on when and how to respond to the victims (Sherry, Kathleen and Sally 304). It implies that the emergency preparedness and response measures should emphasize on the issues concerning the workers, including adequate staffing and training programs to enhance their knowledge and skills.

Emergency preparedness and response interventions mainly focus on addressing the challenges that a population experiences. Heather and Rebecca (531) explain that studies conducted in this field show a close link between emergency preparedness and response with the demographic features, such as the population size and age. It implies that healthcare organization should include the demographic information when planning for the emergency preparedness and response interventions. This will enable them to understand the population and the appropriate measures for addressing their problems. For instance, the outbreak of influenza will require the organizations to understand the size of the population that requires immunization in order to plan appropriately for the necessary resources, such as drugs. It is also important to understand the cultural beliefs, values, and norms of the population in order to use the measures that conform to them in order to realize effective results (Paul 1324).

An emergency plan for responding to the health disasters is necessary in the healthcare organizations. The plan should provide the interventions, which are appropriate to address the health emergencies. For instance, it should outlines and recognizes the importance of communication during the disasters in order to enhance the flow of information. The workers should communicate effectively with the managers in order to understand the situations and obtain the appropriate measures to address them (Sherry, Kathleen and Sally 304). The government or other stakeholders should also inform the public about the emergencies, such as outbreak of an infectious disease in order for them to take the appropriate measures. Communication during the disaster is also necessary because it helps to coordinate resources and support necessary to address the challenges. Therefore, it is important for the healthcare organizations to develop intervention programs that uphold effective communication during the disaster in order to realize effective results. The board of the organizations should also ensure that appropriate resources are available to achieve the objectives (Anthony and James 301).

The legal and regulation systems of a nation contribute significantly in achieving effective emergency preparedness and response. The systems provide the government with the authority to declare a state of emergency on the issues that affect the public health, and to provide relevant support to address the problems (Moore 104). For instance, the government can declare a state of emergency concerning an outbreak of a communicable disease and this could help mobilize the logistical and manpower support necessary to respond to the disaster. The government will provide important information concerning the disaster, including its nature and the geographical area affected. The legislation also enables the government to enforce legislation and isolation measures that could help address the emergencies. Therefore, it is important for a state to develop effective laws that authorize the government to declare a state of emergency during the disasters in order to enhance the health of the population. The legislations should also provide liability protection for the state agents and healthcare professionals who respond to the disasters in order to enhance their ability and willingness to respond to the situations (Sherry, Kathleen and Sally 303). In some states, the absence of some laws that relate to willingness of the healthcare workforce makes it difficult for them to respond to the health emergencies (Cosmas and Knickman 102).

Conclusion

Emergency preparedness refers to the ability of the public health and healthcare organizations, individuals, and the communities to protect against, prevent, and respond quickly to the health emergencies, especially the ones whose unpredictability disrupt the routine capabilities. This shows that emergency preparedness and response requires the effort and support of different parties. The state should develop effective laws that mandate the government to pursue certain decisions and measures that will help address the health emergencies and disasters effectively. For instance, the government can provide isolation and quarantine measures that will prevent further spread of infectious diseases. The laws should also emphasize on providing good environments that enhance safety of the workers and the agents who provide support to the victims in order to motivate them. The community and the individuals should also posses the ability and willingness to respond to emergencies and disasters in order to have a collective support, necessary to address the challenges. The intervention plans should also include the demographic information in order to determine the appropriate resources and support that can address the emergencies effectively. Therefore, it is evident from the discussion that emergency preparedness and response interventions should include healthcare professionals, organization, community, and authority in order to realize effective results.

Works Cited

Anthony, R. Kovner and Knickman James, Jonas and Kovner’s Health Care Delivery in the United States. 10th Edition. Newyork: Springer Publishing Company, 2011.

Cosmas and James Knickman. Healthcare Delivery in the United States. New York: Springer Publishing Company, 2008.

Gibson, Joseph, M. Theodore and James Sterling. The Common Ground Preparedness Framework:. London: Oxford, 2012.

Goldberg, Debora Goetz, and Skidmore, Sue. Emergency Preparedness at Mclean Memorial Hospital. Miami: Florida International University, Department of Management and International Business, 2013.

Heather, Allen and Katz Rebecca. “Demography and Public Health Emergency Preparedness: Making the Connection.” Population Research and Policy Review 29.4 (2010): 527–539.

Moore, Wendy. “The Global Dimensions of Public Health vigilance and Implications for US.” American Journal of Public Health (2012): 102-106.

Paul, Rebecca M. “Setting Policy Priorities to address Public Health Emergencies and the US.” BMC Public Health 14.1 (2014): 1310-1328.

Sherry, Baron, et al. “Protecting Home Health Care Workers: A Challenge to Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Planning.” American Journal of Public Health 99.2 (2009): 301-307.

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