With so many factors to account for, creating a hospital evacuation plan can be overwhelming. Though every hospital generally has an emergency action plan(EAP), it’s difficult to anticipate every problem which may arise during a disaster. Here are are some of our three most important factors to consider when creating an EAP for your facility.
Clear, reliable communication
One of the most significant problems during a disaster is lack of proper communication. With phone lines overloaded and unreliable power systems, one of the most important preparatory steps is developing a clear communication plan. Make sure crucial patient information exists both in physical copies and are accessible via a web browser: if the power shuts down, this information can then be accessed through external computers. If all else fails, a basic set of radios or a whiteboard displaying information can be invaluable to the evacuation process. Don’t plan your evacuation strategy around a single form of communication, but rather have a few different communication options in place in case of failure.
Develop an evacuation strategy for each patient’s individual accommodations:
In the event of an emergency, each patient will have individual needs and require accommodations. Make sure you have an individual evacuation plan in place for each patient: whether they require to be carried out of a building, medication which needs to travel with them, etc. Pay special attention to patients with disabilities and those who don’t speak English and may need a translator. In addition, establish communication channels with transportation providers beforehand about what vehicles you may need.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Lastly, the most important element of hospital evacuations is practicing procedures beforehand. Practice for “when” an evacuation happens, not “if”. Panic can create an enormous safety issue in an evacuation, and the more comfortable hospital personnel are with procedures, the more smoothly an evacuation will run. Establish codewords for alerting employees of an emergency, and make sure each staff member automatically knows their role in a disaster situation. Additionally, train each employee in primary and secondary evacuation routes.
For more resources, including a comprehensive facility evacuation checklist and a free transportation evacuation module, visit our evacuation page