Response to Hurricane Sandy

NOAA National Hurricane Center

Mega-storm Sandy swept through the Northeast on Monday cutting a wide swath of devastating destruction. The impact upon coastal communities ranging from the New Jersey shore up through the New England States is slowly being revealed as millions of people are without power and fires rage through neighborhoods from gas leaks. Much of lower Manhattan remains under water and all transit systems have suspended service as tunnels and buildings are flooded.

The impact of this ‘Super Storm’ upon the health outcomes and mental well being of the affected populations will slowly be revealed. Mortality from drowning’s, electrocutions, carbon monoxide poisonings, fires and fallen debris are not uncommon in situations such as this. Contamination of food stores, access to fresh water, and the consequences of prolonged periods of lack of electricity will become dominant issues. As these areas struggle to pump out storm waters, the potential for deadly environmental contaminants to be released and mold growth to appear will increase.

NNurses Assist in the Evacuation of Patientsurses as front line responders in our national health system need the disaster and public health emergency management knowledge and skills to step forward in their respective organizations and provide the leadership and clinical care that this event demands. Patients, loved ones, and the community at large need the care and compassion of the nursing profession now more than ever. They need nurses who are highly skilled across the many arenas of health systems management and clinical response that a disaster of this scope impacts. Nurses must understand the Incident Command System and the role that they play within that system. Those that are knowledgeable about the basic tenets of disaster triage, allocation of scare resources, patient evacuation, emergency communications and optimizing outcomes in times of great chaos are better suited to fully participate in a successful response.

Disaster Nursing and Emergency Preparedness for Chemical, Biological and Radiological Terrorism and Other Hazards has continued to evolve to meet the unique learning needs of nurses across the globe. The third edition of this textbook holds us to our highest standards ever with an equally ambitious goal—to once again provide nurses and nurse practitioners with the most current, valid, and reliable information and the most comprehensive disaster policy coverage available for them to acquire the knowledge and skills they will need to keep themselves, their patients, and families safe during any disaster event. Our goal is simple- to contribute to the improvement of population health outcomes following a disaster event or public health emergency.

As NYU Hospital continues with its massive evacuation of patients due to the failure of their backup generators, the direct impact of the storm continues to become more visible. We know that we live in a world where our health care systems are already severely taxed, financially stressed, and our emergency departments are functioning in disaster mode on a daily basis. The concept of accommodating a sudden, unanticipated ‘surge’ of patients can be overwhelming. Super storm Sandy confirms that we have reason to believe that these challenges will continue and clinical demands on staff and the need for workforce preparedness will continue to grow in the future.

Nurses are there, at the site of this event all over the East Coast doing what we do best. Providing care and reassurance, promoting health and safety, protecting patients and families from secondary dangers. We must continue to be ‘ReadyRN’s”: Making Every Nurse a Prepared Nurse.

Statement by Dr Veenema posted on Spring Board the official blog of Springer Publishing

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  1. Wanda Montalvo 01. Nov, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

    Timely blog and resource for many front line healthcare providers, especially nurses who routinely help to fill the gap. The impact we’re feeling in NYC is different from 9/11 because Hurraine Sandy bascially knocked down major infrastructure systems that sustain daily living for millions. People are starting to feel dispair and many did not prepare to the type of environmental disaster we’re facing.

    I would highly recommend hospitals, DOH, community health centers, visiting nurse service, and schools of nursing consider having this book as part of their staff training and curriculum. We’re facing system failures that require long term plans for repair. In the meantime, things like mold and environmental contaminates are a definite risk factor for many living in diaster areas.

    What can we do as nurses to help the most vulnerable over the long term? Hospitals in the NYC area are losing power and patients going home to “what?”, we just cannot begin to assess the need. Mental health support will be criticial for many people struggling in NY, NJ, Long Island, Far Rockaways, and other hard hit areas will need services. Is our helthcare system able to fully meet the demands for services?

    We have well qualified nursing workforce and nurse practitioners in NYS, but thanks to legislation Nurse Practitioners are required to have physician practice agreements. Really? Research highlighted by the IOM Future of Nursing report recommends advanced practice nurses be allowed to work to their full scope of practice and level of preparation.

    An incredible timely resource is Disaster Nursing & Emergency Preparedness!