Assignment: Disaster Planning for Public Health
By Day 7 of Week 5
- Select a potential natural or man-made disaster that could happen in your community. Then, write a 3- to 4-page paper about the disaster from the community nurse’s perspective.
Section 1: The Disaster, Man-Made or Natural
- What disasters may strike your community and why? For example, do you live in “Tornado Alley,” or has climate change resulted in unusual cold weather snaps or blizzards in your community? Are you located in a flood plain? Include possible diseases that may result from a natural disaster, such as tetanus or cholera.
Section 2: The Nursing Response
- Formulate responses to the disaster, considering systems and community levels of intervention.
- Review websites where a disaster plan may be available for the public, or if one is not currently available, call public health department to see if a disaster plan exists for your community and what the plan contains.
- In addition to reviewing websites for information about your local disaster plan, you will need to locate best practice/evidence-based practice guidelines in professional literature to determine whether your community’s disaster plan is as sound as it might be or if there is room for improvement.
Section 3: Is My Community Prepared for a Disaster?
- What conclusions can you draw about your community’s preparedness plan from having completed this evaluation?
Week 4: Evidence-Based Practice in Disaster Planning: Nurses as Leaders
- Public health surveillance is one way that public health officials target intervention strategies (Turlock, 2016). Often, it is through prompt recognition of and reporting of incidents of communicable disease that a disaster can be averted (Turlock, 2016). Surveillance activities often prompt questions such as, What is causing the disease? How is it spreading? And who is at risk (Turlock, 2016)? While it is true that preparedness planning cannot eliminate all traces of threat to a community, planning assures that medical services and treatment are deployed in an effective, efficient, and rapid manner (Turlock, 2016). Public health plays a vital role in coordination of providers, assurance of supplies particularly when the Strategic National Stockpile pharmaceuticals and supplies are required, and mobilization of state and national response systems. Public health officials may also provide health care services when required (Turlock, 2016).
- Stanhope (2016) noted that evidence-based practice (EBP) has become more important in health care for many reasons: increased expectations of consumers, increased availability of information through the Internet, increased accountability for results, health care economic changes, and growing numbers of lawsuits, among other reasons. EBP is a lifelong problem-solving approach that regularly produces excellent results and often provides the theoretical underpinnings for programs to mitigate problems in the community. Once programs are in place, evaluation of their effectiveness should be conducted to determine whether they are worth the continued expenditure of resources. Use of EBP is vital to assure safe outcomes for populations during disasters, such as massive communicable disease outbreaks, and should be the foundation of disaster-planning strategies.
Stanhope, M., & Lancaster, J. (2016). Public health nursing: Population-centered health care in the community (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.
- Chapter 15, “Evidence-Based Practice” (pp. 342–354)
- Chapter 23, “Public Health Nursing Practice and the Disaster Management Cycle” (pp. 503–528)
- Chapter 24, “Public Health Surveillance and Outbreak Investigation” (pp. 529–544)
- Chapter 25, “Program Management” (pp. 545–567)
- Laureate Education (Producer). (2009a). Family, community and population-based care: Emergency preparedness and disaster response in community health nursing [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.
- TED. (2012). How to step up in the face of disaster [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/caitria_and_morgan_o_neill_how_to_step_up_in_the_face_of_disaster
- This Ted Talk describes the actions of two sisters who step up as leaders during a tornado disaster in their community.
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