When disaster strikes, health care organizations of all sizes and types must continue to provide services to their patients and clients. Health care continuity is essential to helping people recover from disaster impacts and maintain their functional and health status. Experience has shown that people with chronic health conditions and other vulnerable populations are more likely to experience negative impacts from disasters, but that a resilient health care system can make a difference.
Having a plan is only the first step to ensuring continuity of operations (COOP). Knowing and practicing the plan can make all the difference.
How can health care organizations refresh staff knowledge of COOP procedures to increase resiliency, even when the time is tight?
Staff Meeting Take 5: Scenario-based discussions are one way to refresh staff knowledge of existing plans and procedures. Take five minutes in a staff meeting to recall a recent emergency (either from your own organization’s experience or from elsewhere). Staff responsible for emergency preparedness can ask a question or two related to a specific policy or procedure while referring to the plan. Examples of questions might include:
Staff notification: What are the three ways staff could be notified of an emergency at our organization? Do all staff present have access to these methods? How can staff expect to receive situation updates as the emergency evolves?
Medical records: What is our backup system if our primary system is inaccessible? How can staff access this backup system? What are the procedures for using this system?
Power loss: What are the procedures for managing a loss of power at our organization? What immediate actions should staff take in the event of a power loss?
Taking just five minutes can go a long way to refreshing staff knowledge of emergency procedures and may even help to uncover areas for additional training or for organizational COOP plan improvement.