Ask the care expert: finding assistance updating a facility's disaster plan

Share this content:
Sherrie Dornberger, RNC, CDONA, FACDONA, executive director, NADONA
Sherrie Dornberger, RNC, CDONA, FACDONA, executive director, NADONA
We are developing and updating our disaster plan for our facility. Are there any groups that can offer us additional assistance?

First of all, this is wonderful to do at least twice a year. I know many states do make this a requirement, which is good because long-term care facility employees get hired, leave or get promoted all the time.

Also, some people enjoy or are better at some jobs than others, so when developing or updating a disaster plan, be sure you take advantage of employees who may have specialized training/certifications in or experience with disasters. There also are consultants you can bring in to speak at your facility if you have special needs.

Keep in mind that the plan on paper is not enough; you still need to practice what you preach. Staging an active drill with Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts acting as residents helps when practicing moving or transferring people out of the facility. Engage your community to assist with the drill!

Look to your local American Red Cross chapter for assistance. The Red Cross offers training on how to run shelters during evacuations due to disasters. Training is online and in person.

It would be great to have department heads take this specialized training since your residents would need to be at a shelter if your facility needed to be evacuated. Who better to help run your shelter than your staff members who know your residents?

The Red Cross specializes in assisting us through disasters and has the tools available, so why reinvent the wheel? They now also have a two-year CPR certification, which is more than their old once-a-year certification.
As someone at the Red Cross once said to me, “Get to know us before you need us!” Sounds good to me.