Any nurses who have ideas on how to help in disaster

  1. With all the talk about potential of terrorism in the country it makes me wonder what we as nurses and citizens can do to prevent and or intervene in cases of disaster in our communities. I want to get involved but unsure in what way. I'm interested in emergency radio communication and would be able to help in that way with the help of my husband, but am more interested in the medical part of helping. One way is being part of the emergency response team with red cross. I've attempted to contact them with volunteering but they never got back with me. I guess they have enough help. Do any of you have any ideas about how you can volunteer in this area as a nurse.
  2. Visit nursecheryl profile page

    About nursecheryl

    Joined: Jul '02; Posts: 143; Likes: 18
    RN, CHPN; from US
    Specialty: inpatient hospice house


  3. by   Sharon

    I applaud your interest in wanting to become involved and volunteer. It will arduous and boring at times but eventually you will find it very rewarding. The American Red Cross is a good place to start to get an overview of some of the oldest sources of disaster rescue and relief in the nation.

    In order to identify what would be fulfilling for you would be to investigate the roles of various disaster rescue and relief agencies. For instance, the American Red Cross is not a rescue operation in the Untied States; they are a relief organization. What this means is that they do not participate in the actual life saving activities of a disaster therefore the type and amount of resources is more limited. My analogy is to think of them as a cross between a case management agency and a human resources agency. The ARC provides financial resources to the individuals and communities through case management. As a nurse your role would be to identify the needed medical care and get it for the individual, you would rarely be called upon to do direct care. As a human resources agency, in a large-scale disaster, the role is more to corral the unattached volunteer who just show up on a disaster and bring some order to the situation. These roles were agreed upon between all volunteer disaster agencies and the federal government. This is not to say that some individual local units may have unique rescue operations to their locality. The unique groups are rarely used routinely on large disasters. Therefore, American Red Cross may not be the agency that would meet your needs but there are many more.

    As a nurse your knowledge is very valuable and can easily be used in many arenas. Rarely disaster rescue and relief agencies take a single specialty person, not even trauma surgeons. When nurses are specifically called it is always a subspecialty. After the Afghanistan earthquake 10 years ago the call for nurses and physicians were for dialysis nurses who had worked with patients who lost there kidney function from compression trauma.

    The fact that you are interested in emergency communication is a good beginning. The more cross training you have the more opportunities will be open to you. I crossed trained in many sub rescue areas as well as relief areas, which got me the variety and volume of experiences I wanted:

    Pre disaster -Community prevention education, Mitigation, warning systems.
    Rescue-Basic rescue techniques, aircraft rescue, dive rescue, triage systems, and incident command, critical incident stress debriefing, workplace violence
    Recovery- Guess the rash (AKA infectious diseases), community mental health, case management, interagency government liaison work, parts recovery (morgue duty), funeral management of adults and children, the media relations, evaluation and retraining.

    Part of participation is finding your niche to meet an on going need. I ended up in the expert role of assisting families who have had a child significantly impacted by a disaster, usually killed or disabled. Because not many nurses have had the experience I have, I get calls from other agency and communities that have heard about me through word of mouth. Usually if the call is from a distance, I provide the guidance over the telephone, which can be considered a unique form of telephone triage and case management.

    Right now all agencies are still overwhelmed with the 9/11 response but be persistent and try many.
  4. by   nursecheryl
    I hope I have already thanked you for your response. I think you emailed me also. Or, was that someone else. I just want you to know I used this information to help me make my decision in what ways I could volunteer. Sorry I'm so late in responding back. I did already read this and use it. I was surprised I never responded. This isn't like me.
  5. by   CATHYW
    nursecheryl, the office of Homeland Security has formed a citizens' group that can be mobilized by that office under the auspices of FEMA and the Emergency Management Agency of hte state you live in.
    I have signed up for it, but cannot remember the exact name of the agency, I am sorry to say! I clicked on the site as a link from the site. You might try looking there. Sorry to be so vague, but I am at home, and the info is in my office at work. The most likely and most immediate thing I can imagine is the immunization against smallpox. That is the thing that is mentioned in the informtational site.

    Good luck, and good hunting!
  6. by   LPN & EMT-CT
    These are very good ideas and another way to help is joining a Rescue Squad and becoming a EMT or EMT-Intermiate or a Paramedic in your community. It adds some much more knowkedge about disasters and trauma care and many, mant ascepts on EMergency care and triage, and many multiple ascpects on different kinds of rescue like Water Rescue, Rope Rescue, Confided Space rescue, Cave rescue, Search & Rescue. It also helps with nursing as well. Any one of these courses are excellent and also Pre Hospital Trauma Life Support, Basic and Advanced Trauma Life Support, PALS, and ACLS.
  7. by   nursecheryl
    Thank you both for your ideas. I have also already signed up for the homeland security group. I also don't remember the name. I have to admit I never thought about emt but it does sound exciting. I will check into that.
  8. by   nursecheryl
    I remember the name of the group you are talking about. It is called the national nurse response team. I'm not sure how to put the link in here. If I can figure it out I will

    Here is the link for the National Nurse Response Team.........including the application and lots of info about what is needed. Hope this helps
  10. by   nursecheryl
    thanks Kelly I wasn't able to figure out how to send this link.
  11. by   CATHYW
    Good job, ladies! I subscribe to the Occupational & Environmental Medicine Board from Duke University. This came today:

    In Emergency, Smallpox shots for Everyone
    (Please visit the original website to view the whole article)

    Finding Volunteers to Implement Federal Plan Cited as Potential Problem

    by Ceci Connally
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, September 24, 2002; Page AO2

    A federal emergency response plan for vaccinating the entire U.S. population against a smallpox attack envisions recruiting at least 1.3 million volunteers to staff health clinics 16 hours a day for a full week.

    The mass vaccination guidelines, issued yesterday, outline an unprecendented medical challenege that public health experts say is hard to imagine: inoculating 288 million Americans quickly and calmly against the backdrop of a bioterrorist attack. Never in the nation's history has such a rapid, large-scale inoculation program been undertaken, although drafters of the guidelines said they drew on the lessons of smaller vaccination campaigns.

    While federal officials have released little information on the potential threat of a bioterrorist attack, the Bush administration says it wants the country to be ready. Officials said they would treat even a single case of smallpox as a terrorist incident and move, quickly, with the help of states, to nationwide vaccinations.

    "The purpose of this plan is to take the next step in getting stattes ready in the event of an attck," said Walter Orenstein, director of the National Immunization Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "The goal here is to help states and localitites develop the capacity to provide vaccine to very large numbers of people as rapidly as possible."

    In the 50-page document sent to state and local health commissioners, the CDC lays out a step-by-step scenario for dealing with smalpos -- from ordering refrigerators for storing vaccine to scheduling daily trash pickup at dozens of vaccination clinics. It urges states to identify and train personnel not only to administer the vaccine but also to handle security, transport people, brief the media, direct traffic, run instructional videos, collect medical histories, enter data into computers and respond to other emergencies.

    "To do mass vaccination in 10 days would be a total nightmare," said Donald Leung, editor of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

    The plan instructs state officials to identify 20 sites for vaccinating every 1 million people. High schools, health clinics, arenas, theaters, conference halls and perhaps shopping malls could be used, according to the plan.

    copyright2002 The Washington Post Company
    Last edit by CATHYW on Sep 24, '02
  12. by   nursecheryl
    Very good article but it didn't say how to volunteer for it.
  13. by   CATHYW
    I think this is where the National Nurse Response Team would come in, Cheryl. You still might want to contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency or or your State Agency, if you haven't already. I'm sure (I think!) they could steer you to something specific.
  14. by   renerian
    I took several classes at the red cross on disasters. Very helpful for both small and large scale events.