Power in Numbers

Work with local authorities when creating your emergency preparedness plan BY SAHELY MUKERJI


or Chris Bland, director of safety and security at Good Shepherd Medical Center and Good Shep- herd Ambulatory Surgery Center in Longview, Texas, the definition of a disaster is when the need outweighs the resources. “When you have an emergency or a natural disaster, your resources are over- whelmed and you need more resources than you have,” he says. “So you need help from your local police department, fire department and all other emer- gency responders.” Given that, it is in an ASC’s best interest to establish good relations with local authorities before disaster strikes, he says. Police, firefighters and local hospi- tals are all important entities for ASCs to have good working relationships with, says Wende Dixon, RN, admin- istrator of Mohawk Valley Endoscopy Center in Utica, New York. “Have a


community-wide plan with them. You back them up, they back you up and together you make sure everyone is prepared if a major event happens.”

Using Community Resources There was a time when ASCs and local authorities worked in silos, Bland says, but that changed after 9/11, and the new, more collaborative approach remained evident during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. “During Katrina, we sheltered over 1,000 people in our community, and health care facilities were very involved in the care of those sheltered patients.” Texas is fortunate to have trauma

service areas, Bland says. “A coali- tion of health care facilities, hospitals, ambulance transport and public health member agencies meet on a quarterly basis and promote team building,” he says. “After 9/11, a lot of federal money

flowed through these agencies, so we were able to meet and plan through regional resources and share resources.” Bland used the same philosophy

inside his ASC. “I took it upon myself to build strong relations with the police, fire department and other local authorities,” he says. The Environment of Care Committee at the ASC today has 15 members and includes admin- istrators, physicians and clinical and ancillary staff, he says. “The commit- tee meets quarterly, sometimes more frequently if necessary, and devel- ops the ASC’s emergency plan. It also plans exercises with the local fire, health, police and other emergency responder departments of the county.” The ASC performs its emer-

gency exercises and disaster drills together with the local authorities, Bland says. “When the Medical Cen- ter tests its emergency plan, the ASC participates in the exercises. Earlier this year, we had an airport disaster drill that involved multiple city and county agencies. We got together and

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