Hospitals and healthcare organizations are no strangers to dealing with emergency situations. Saving lives and helping people who are suffering from a serious health crisis are part of their everyday work.
But sometimes the emergency situation can be a much larger scale than what they are used to dealing with. A mass casualty incident, for example, when a disaster has taken place such as a hurricane, fire, terror attack, mass shooting incident or an explosion.
Other times the hospital or healthcare organization itself may be the center of the emergency that needs to be managed – for example when it is caught up in a natural disaster or a fire has broken out at the hospital.
When it comes to managing an emergency situation in a healthcare environment, no matter how it has come about, there are best practices that hospitals and health care organizations should adopt.
Take a comprehensive look at your organization’s resources, including staffing, facilities, equipment and so on. How well does it perform when you are stretched in a normal busy period? How would your systems cope if there was a mass casualty incident?
Planning for a different range of scenarios can help you to identify strengths and weaknesses in your hospital or healthcare organization’s capacity to respond should a disaster occur. You should then put strategies in place to address these, and have clear, easy-to-follow plans that your employees can follow should the unfortunate occur.
Depending on your geographic location, it can be prudent to collaborate with other hospital and healthcare organizations in your area to have a unified plan when a disaster occurs. This can include determining how to triage casualties through to evacuating patients from one facility to another should the need arise.
It’s also important to collaborate with emergency management agencies and government departments when formulating your plans.
When there is a crisis you will quickly need to bring together a management team to coordinate and lead other employees in what is expected. Identifying staff members well in advance who can take on these roles is critical, and they should be trained appropriately in managing this function in a disaster.
Likewise, all your employees should be trained in what is expected of them during an emergency situation. Running a range of simulations, drills and other training exercises is a good idea so staff can respond appropriately during an actual emergency.
One of the most important aspects of handling any disaster situation is having clear, concise and timely communication issued from a reliable source. If you’re faced with a disaster you will need to communicate effectively with both internal and external stakeholders.
Consider investing in a reliable communications system ahead of time, such as DeskAlerts. This is a dedicated internal communications channel many hospitals and healthcare organizations have successfully used during mass casualty incidents. It can be deployed to quickly send pop-up notifications to every employee advising of a critical incident, so everyone can be prepared quickly.