Four Types of Patients You Should Be Prepared to Evacuate

When you reach the part of your emergency response plan that talks about your response to an event, evacuation is going to become a big conversation. Aside from the “should we or shouldn’t we” debate, the logistics of evacuating even a small healthcare facility is going seem overwhelming.
 
Before jumping into a plan, take some time to identify the populations you commonly encounter in your facility. Then list all the other people that may happen to be around in the event of an emergency. Planning for every possible scenario may seem overkill but taking the time to talk about what to do when you have a visitor trapped with you in a flood will make you feel more prepared.
 
A few of the types of patients you may need to add to your list include:

Non-English Speakers

For patients who list English as their second language, there needs to be a plan to communicate with them on a daily basis. Even those who speak English well enough to interact with providers one-on-one, in an emergency situation, they will revert to their native tongue. A simple option for communicating with them during an evacuation include pre-printing signs or letters in their respective language. (And, making sure all staff members know where the signs are.)

Oxygen-Dependent

A decent percentage of patients are going to require electricity or portable devices to continue their care during the evacuation. While some may have a portable oxygen tank or be able to run their machines on battery power for a limited time, they will also be concerned about what happens after that. Designating someone to oversee equipment and making sure there are adequate power sources and backup machines at the evacuation place, will help this part of the evacuation process run more smoothly.

Non-Ambulatory

Patients, who are unable to walk on their own will present a challenge to staff members during an evacuation. Each non-ambulatory patient will require multiple staff members to move. Consider starting the evacuation with an announcement to all patients explaining how the process will be handled and what they can expect.

Unattended minors

For hospitals or healthcare facilities where minors may be staying overnight unaccompanied, additional steps need to be taken to ensure those minor patients are monitored continuously. Children are likely to remain quiet when scared and may even hide in a scary situation. Again, methodical approaches to evacuation, as well as the ability to continually track where these patients are will reassure both the patient and their parent or guardian.
 
The list of potential groups of patients and visitors is long. This is by no means an exhaustive list. These four examples are meant to serve as a starting point for considering the unique obstacles and hurdles that your patient population may bring to an evacuation. Ready for your next step?
Topics: Preparedness

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