Disaster Preparedness

bostonPicture source: www.news.com.au



The BOSTON MARATHON BOMBINGS got people thinking about many things, particularly disaster preparedness. Saving all of those people wasn’t something that was planned that day. Instead, the city accomplished it through disaster preparedness. Disaster preparedness isn’t a concern limited to police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians. Healthcare organizations have to prepare constantly to care for people injured in any type of disaster, from acts of terrorism to accidents and natural disasters. Each hospital has a policy and procedure for responding a disaster. Hospitals drill to practice their response and ensure that their disaster plan, policies and procedures are up to date.  Industrial engineers can play a vital role in developing a disaster plan, conducting drills and executing the plan when a disaster strikes. Usually, a hospital has a cross-disciplinary team that develops the disaster plan. Some things such plans should consider include:

  • Develop a logistical plan to obtain needed medical supplies and equipment and move the supplies and equipment to the location where they are needed.
  • Define a communication plan to activate the emergency response system, notify the appropriate responders, and mobilize clinical teams to care for victims.
  • Identify a capacity plan to accommodate a surge in patient volumes. For example, how will patients in the hospital be shifted or moved to allow for incoming patients.
  • Document patient flow paths for patients requiring decontamination from a nuclear, radioactive or other hazardous material exposure.

There are many opportunities for IEs in disaster preparedness in healthcare. What ideas do you have for how industrial engineers can save lives during a disaster?

The full version of the article is available in IIE Laboratory. It is also readable online for IIE member through accessing the iienet.org website. Contact Maya (President of IIE BINUS University Chapter) at mayarininta@yahoo.com for more information on the IIE membership.