Disaster Plan


A disaster is an event which causes serious disruption to community life, threatens or causes death or injury in that community, and/or damage to property.

It is beyond the day-to-day capacity of the prescribed statutory authorities and requires special resources other than those normally available to those authorities.

Disaster can arise from natural causes cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis or from man-made situations such as plane crashes and wars.

Occur with little or no warning – Only well prepared systems will be able to limit the damages and losses that follow disasters.

The effectiveness and quality of response to a disaster is highly dependent on the level of preparation.

An ill-prepared system will lead to an
ineffective and uncoordinated response.

Apart from an effective response, other
advantages of preparation include cost
savings and an improved and alert system.

Phases of Disaster Management

There are four phases of disaster management:

  1. Prevention
  2. Preparation
  3. Response
  4. Recovery

1. Prevention

Essentially the evolution and
implementation of strategies to prevent or mitigate the impact of disasters if/when they arise e.g. designing tsunami warning systems or fire alarm systems

2. Preparation

This involves system upgrade, overhaul,
protocol design, implementation and quality assessment for disaster management.

3. Response

This involves the interaction of the various emergency response agencies to the disaster to save as many casualties as possible; quick transfer to hospitals, coordination of the hospitals and creation of temporary shelters.

4. Recovery

This phase involves:

  • Rebuilding,
  • Reconstruction
  • Rehabilitation…..

with a goal to restoring the community to its pre-event state or as close to it as possible.

For a disaster plan to be effective it needs to involve all the stakeholders in its design.

Disaster plan is necessary at various levels of health care and political terrain:

  • National,
  • Regional,
  • State and local government levels

There should be disaster plans within
organizations such as the hospitals, fire
service, Army, Air force and Navy; the
Ministries of health, the police and the
Emergency Medical Service (EMS).

There is need for a coordinating agency
such as the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to supervise, monitor and coordinate inter-agency procedures, protocols, joint training sessions and drills.

Personnel in all the relevant response
agencies must be familiar with the policies, protocols and procedures to be implemented following a disaster.

Training and retraining is essential

The hospital disaster plan

There should be a Disaster Committee in the hospital which should:

  • Design a disaster plan for the hospital
  • Put in place procedures and protocols to be implemented in a disaster situation
  • Supervise staff training for disaster management
  • Be engaged in capacity building
  • Promote staff awareness regarding disaster prevention and preparation
  • Promote inter-departmental interaction regarding disaster management
  • Determine staff competency levels in disaster management
  • Allocate staff roles in disaster management
  • Ensure regular drills, seminars, tabletop exercises, computer simulations and interactions on disasters
  • Ensure stockpile of drugs and equipment to be mobilized in disaster situation
  • Ensure quality assurance and audit
  • Promote inter-hospital and inter-agency interaction within the municipality with┬áregard to disaster management.
  • Ensure management commitment to disaster management

Committee composition

The committee should be composed of the following:

  • The Hospital Trauma Director
  • The Emergency Department Chief
  • The Head of Surgery
  • The Head of Anaesthesia
  • The Chief of Nursing services
  • The Head of Security
  • The Head of Stores
  • The Head of Pharmacy
  • A representative of the Hospital Manager

The disaster protocol in the hospital should address the following principal issues:

  • Who activates the disaster protocol?
  • What are the criteria for activation?
  • Information relay to critical departments:
    • laboratories, blood bank, theatres, ICU, radiology, anaesthesia, Emergency Department (ED) Management, Hospital
      Management, Portage and Security
  • Pattern of staff call up to the Emergency
  • Department in a disaster situation
    Method of staff call
  • Pre-determined plan for Emergency
  • Department evacuation
  • Information centre constitution for distressed relatives
  • Departmental disaster procedures
  • Logistic issues in a disaster situation
    “Standing down” criteria and procedure

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