The major role of a public health personnel, including a public heath nurse is contributing specific skills in times of disaster such as assessing, priority setting, collaboration, and addressing of both preventive and acute care needs. In addition, public health nurses have the skills to serves their community well in disaster to include health education, physical and psychosocial needs.
During the disaster the public health nurse worked together with other other disciplines such as the operation chief who was incharge of search and rescue, the logistic’s chief who arrange for temperary housing and communication network and the public health department who inspected food and safe water. The collaborations enhanced the emergency response infrastructure at different levels. The chain of command that was used in the simulation for the community health nurse is as follows;Incident commander, Operations section chief, Medical/Health branch director, Public health group, Public Health Nursing Supervisor, Community Health nurse.
Community health nurses collaborate with other experts, including environmentalists, epidemiologists, laboratory workers, biostatisticians, physicians, social workers and many others disciplines to deal with a situation that is outside the nurse’s scope of practice. The Community health nurse encountered four possible emergency situations during her door to door interview. First, one person had flooding in his basement and a spill of unknown mixed chemicals.
The second situation the nurse encounter was a mother of a baby who did not know where her husband was, she had run out of diapers, baby wipes, formula and drinking water. To make matters worse she had her mother in law to take care of as well. The third situation the nurse encountered was with a lady by the name of rosario who only spoke spanish. She asked the lady using hand gestures to allow her walk around the house so she can begin her assessment of the home.
The nurse found Rosario’s son in the backyard who was running a generator in an inadequately ventilated shed. The last situation the nurse encountered was a a gentlemen was ran out of this his blood pressure pills and the take everyday. He could not fill his prescription due to the flood. The Community health nurse offer advice/suggestions to each family’s unique situation and offered resources to calm the fear of the people she interviewed. There are different techniques the nurse employed to calm the fears of those she interviewed.
She established a human connection in a non-intrusive, compassionate manner with each person is interviwed, She calmed and oriented the emotionally overwhelmed residents. She provided physical and emotional comfort to the residents and enhance immediate and ongoing safety. She also had the resident voice what their immediate needs and concerns were, and gathered additional information as appropriate. For example; the person with a flooded basement and chemical pill, she advised the gentlemen to contact an Environmental Health Speciality on how to clean up Household Hazardous waste.
The Mother who was lacking basic provisions, had no electricity and had to take care of the mother in- law, the nurse gave her an option of staying at the shelter and arranging for a social service visit to help her with resources that can help her to get through the weeks as she is recovering from the storm. Rasario’s son was running a generator in an inadequately ventilated shed, the nurse instructed him on how to how to safely operated a generator indoors. As well as arrange for a spanish speaking translate and material on safe food, and internal combustion engines and ventilation in spanish.
The gentlemen who had run out of blood pressure pills the nurse took his blood pressure and made arrangement for the shelter where he can have prompt excess to the medication. When preparing to respond to an emergency such as Hurricane Katrina, first, the nursing personal must know and describe their role and expectations during an emergency response. This provides the them with the opportunity to the necessary knowledge and practice skills before the emergency arises.
Secondly, each nursing personnel needs to be familiar with and be able to describe the lines of authority and communication during an emergency response, the chain of command. They need to know who to report too and take orders from. Each personnel must also know where to find the emergency response plan and to be familiar with its contents before an emergency. The nursing personnel should also prepare for the type of emergency’s likely to occur in their area, what health conditions are likely to result, and which emergency response roles they are most likely to be assigned.
They can practice their likely roles by participating in drills both local and statewide as well as disaster training programs. Nurses also need to be familiar with not only standard personal protective equipment used as part of an infection control program such as gloves, gowns, and respiratory masks, but also with advanced equipment and procedures that can be used during emergencies. Lastly, the most important skill that can be used when all systems, equipment, or plans fails is critical thinking and problem solving skills which can help when whatever little resources are available.