Disaster Preparedness Paper


Contact a disaster preparedness person at either a local hospital, or local city or county emergency services agency.

Interview your contact, asking the following questions:

1) “What do you consider to be the top three disasters for which you prepare?”

2) “What would you say are your top three lessons learned about managing a disaster?”

Write a paper of 1,200 words that summarizes your findings from the interview as well as from your readings.

Refer to the assigned readings to incorporate specific examples and details into your paper.

Prepare this assignment according to the APA guidelines found in the APA Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center. An abstract is not required.

This assignment uses a grading rubric. Instructors will be using the rubric to grade the assignment; therefore, students should review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the assignment criteria and expectations for successful completion of the assignment.

Disaster Preparedness

In the modern world, there are a number of factors that actively contribute towards the development of disasters. These factors can be both natural and human-influenced, but the underlying commonality between them is the fact that they both stand to inflict serious injury, damage property, and propagate widespread panic and anxiety. It is these factors that make disasters extremely dangerous.

In the healthcare sector, reliability is a core aspect of quality care, and patients need to feel safe enough to access health care facilities even in the event of disasters, seeing as during such times the need for health care services significantly rises (American Nurses Association, 2015). In this respect, it is critical to ensure that health care facilities are not only equipped but also prepared to handle and manage disasters should they ever occur.

Essentially, this calls for a healthy working relationship between healthcare facilities and other local, state, and federal agencies to ensure said facilities are well prepared to manage disasters as or when they occur. To better understand the impact of disaster preparedness, I talked to the security chief at my local VA in order to get a better understanding of just what goes into facilitating disaster preparedness within a healthcare facility.

Perhaps the most important part of the discussion, and arguably the most impactful, was understanding the most common disasters for which health care facilities are required to prepare. The first and most important one was natural disasters. In a world where urbanization and nature frequently collide with catastrophic results, being prepared for natural disasters is quintessential for healthcare facilities.

These may include hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning strikes, tsunamis, floods, wildfires, and earthquakes to name a few. Healthcare facilities prioritize their preparedness in handling natural disasters because they are not only the most common, but also the ones with the highest number of casualties on a regular basis (Barker & DeNisco, 2016). Whenever such disasters occur, facilities are flooded with patients seeking medical help and with family members looking for their loved ones. In order to guarantee that facilities can handle such challenges, they need to be well prepared beforehand. Physicians and nurses need to be well-informed about the admission processes during such times and the prioritization of patients as they are brought to the facility.

Furthermore, they need to be well-prepared insofar as spatial requirements are concerned, and be able to work efficiently within a facility that will be significantly crowded. At the same time, the interview revealed that many facilities need to have the requisite stocks of drugs to provide care services to patients as well as an emergency contact system that can allow them to have additional staff to help in the provision of services (CDC, 2018). Seeing as natural disasters tend to be the most common, it only makes sense that they are the ones facilities are best prepared to handle.

The second disaster that facilities and localities need to be well prepared to handle is chemical emergencies. In the event of a chemical emergency, it can become challenging for facilities to provide health care services to contaminated patients or contaminated areas.

Furthermore, chemical emergencies are known to solicit a significant degree of public panic and confusion, seeing as they can easily be confused for terrorist attacks. In this way, health care facilities and local authorities need to be well trained on the protocols of handling chemical disasters such as finding shelter for the public, evacuation of contaminated areas, and even handling patients that come into contact with said dangerous chemicals. Considering the fact that the list of hazardous chemicals is significantly vast and said chemicals could originate from numerous sources, healthcare facilities need to be well-equipped and adequately trained to handle a variety of chemical emergencies should they occur (Barker & DeNisco, 2016).

Lastly, the third disaster for which local authorities and health facilities need to be adequately prepared for are terrorism disasters. Such disasters can come in the form of bioterrorism, bomb attacks, and even shootings. Healthcare facilities need to be well-versed in some of the possible injuries that may result from such disasters and adequately prepare themselves to handle and manage the results of such attacks should they occur (Barker & DeNisco, 2016).

For instance, facilities need to have protocols that dictate how they treat victims of bomb attacks or how they can isolate and treat victims of bioterrorism attacks without compromising the quality of care to such victims and other patients within the facility. This is an important aspect of disaster preparedness that needs to be seriously considered and adequately prepared for by all health facilities as well as the local, state, and federal authorities that will be involved in managing the disaster in question.

It must also be noted that the interview revealed a number of core lessons that are critical to effective disaster management. The first and arguably most important lesson is the importance of prior preparation and planning. Seeing as the negative impacts and severities of disasters can be projected logically, health care facilities and local authorities can adequately plan on how to handle such disasters and prepare themselves before they occur (CDC, 2018). This is usually facilitated through training the relevant staff and equipping them with the requisite knowledge and expertise to help them navigate and manage such disasters when they occur. For instance, physicians and nurses can be trained on how to handle victims of chemical disasters in a safe manner that prevents the contamination of other patients and staff in the process. Providing adequate and regular training works well to ensure that the relevant staff and authorities are able to manage a disaster when it occurs safely.

The second most important lesson in managing disasters lies in facilitating strong, reliable, and effective collaboration and teamwork between relevant authorities and stakeholders when a disaster occurs (Huser, 2015). Disaster preparedness is simply about anticipating the impacts of a disaster and developing appropriate measures to mitigate the impacts of the disaster in question as much as possible.

For instance, a natural disaster such as a hurricane or tornado will require collaboration between health facilities, the fire and emergency department, local law enforcement, as well as both state and federal governments in order to effectively manage the disaster in question (CDC, 2017). Local law enforcement and the fire and emergency department can work together to safely rescue victims and injured parties and transport them to health facilities that will have adequately trained personnel to handle such patients and minimize the loss of life from any injuries suffered from the disaster. Local and federal governments can work together to facilitate the provision of funds and assistance where necessary to manage the disaster.

Lastly, it is important to raise public awareness with regards to disasters and to inform said public on how best such disasters can be managed. For example, informing the public about the importance of building safety shelters to protect themselves from tornadoes and hurricanes can go a long way towards improving the ability of relevant stakeholders to manage the disaster in question. Ensuring the public is well aware of their roles and responsibilities in the event of a disaster works well towards reducing the uncertainty, panic, and anxiety that often accompanies such disasters and makes it much easier for the disaster to be effectively and safely managed.


American Nurses Association (2015). Code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements. Silver Springs, MD: Author. 

Barker, A. M. & DeNisco, S. M. (2016). Advanced practice nursing: Essential Knowledge for the Profession (3nd Ed.). Boston: Jones & Bartlett.

CDC (2017). Hurricane season public health preparedness, Response, and recovery guidance for health care providers, response and recovery workers, and affected communities. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6637e1.htm

CDC (2018). Emergency preparedness and response. Retrieved from: https://emergency.cdc.gov/planning/index.asp

Huser, (2015). Managing security and safety during disasters. Briefings on Hospital Safety. Retrieved from https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ccm&AN=111832630&site=ehost-live&scope=site

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