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 or limited service as tunnels and buildings recover from flooding.
The impact of this ‘Super Storm’ upon the health outcomes and mental well being of the affected populations will slowly be revealed. Mortality from drownings, 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 will increase.
Nurses 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. Nurses who 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 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 significant damage to and 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 that clinical demands on staff and the need for workforce preparedness will continue to grow in the future.
Nurses are there, supporting families and residents 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.’