While I was at EMS World Expo in November, the East Coast was getting hammered with hurricane Sandy. There were many things that came out of that disaster and lessons learned about preparedness. Some of the lessons learned were about how we can be as prepared as we want to be, but ultimately we are not prepared for the type of devastation than nature can incur upon us.
Special Needs Community Preparedness
Despite our own fragile preparedness level, there is a community of people all around us at any given time that is at great risk for any kind of disaster, even small ones that could befall your community. The sick and frail, the elderly that are unable to care for themselves, or those that are just barely hanging on under the best of circumstances can be truly devastated when the meager support they have is taken away. When there is any interruption of services, they lose health capability very rapidly.
I point out you all the people in the apartment buildings without power after the storm. Those living on an upper floor. They have no elevator. They are wheelchair-bound or unable to walk a long distance or they are being cared for by a spouse or family member. These people are unable to provide for themselves until someone comes and provides for them.
We saw this happening with Sandy when extra EMTs and paramedics from other areas came in and started going through these apartment buildings, interviewing door by door by door. They found countless numbers of individuals in these situations that had not been able to care for themselves. Those people without insulin for an extended period of time had not been able to go down nine or ten flights of stairs to go outside to ask for help. They were stuck where they were until someone came by to see if they needed help.
Community Needs Awareness
You should be aware of in your community of the individuals like this. Many of them you already know. If you don’t have that list with your own emergency operations center, you should be making a mental list when something happens. Even with a localized disaster, like a stream flooding or something like that, you should have a mental list in your head of where the at-risk people are in your community. You know who they are. You transport them frequently.
Whatever the disaster cause may be, knowing where those individuals are and being proactive about getting to them can make a non-emergent situation be something you can manage rather than getting back to them days later and finding out that now it’s become a severe emergency. All of these things can be staved off by a little bit of preparedness on your part. Preparing for disaster is not just an individual thing. Preparedness is not just something you do for you and your family. As a member of the emergency response community, preparedness is something you do to make sure you’re taking care of those that are least able to care for themselves when disaster strikes.
Follow-up on the links for this news item and all the links for news and additional resources in the shownotes for this episode — EMS Looks At Crohn’s Disease and Episode 317.