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Hospital Emergency Management
By: Dr. Robert J. Muller
It’s been one month now since I have transitioned from local Emergency Management into my role in hospital Emergency Management and although the differences are subtle, they are significant. This book has proven to be a good foundational source of knowledge to build on. In the hospital environment planning, training, and exercise are vital but extremely difficult to coordinate due to demands on time and resources. Hospitals face all-hazards with the added pressure to continue providing essential services to a community and to reduce the duration of disruptions in service, in many cases can be the difference between life and death. All departments and services need to work together seamlessly and smoothly during times of disaster and that takes training and buy-in. The level of buy-in to the training and exercise program depends on the Emergency Manager's ability to articulate (sell) the “WHY” they should take time away from their service to participate.
This book has been a good starting point for me in this new leg of my journey and I suspect it will be a reference guide for me in the future. This book covers many of the areas of concern for hospital Emergency Managers but should be coupled with facility-specific guides and procedures. All facilities need a dedicated Emergency Management team and a good Emergency Management program to conduct Planning and Mitigation.
In the hospital setting Emergency Managers must balance the needs of the business and the needs of the community it serves. Emergency Managers need to be well-versed in both.
There are a lot of regulatory agencies (The Joint Commission, OSHA, National Fire Prevention Agency, FDA, etc.) that govern the operations of a hospital, each with specific standards that must be met to keep operating. It is the EM’s job to ensure the facility remains in compliance and operational and they must be knowledgeable of all applicable regulatory requirements.
There is a lot that the hospital Emergency Management is responsible for, especially those that have outreach facilities, and many only have one or two EM’s so team and coalition building is crucial to a successful program. Community engagement and partnership are crucial, especially with public safety agencies who will be responding to your incident.
For a hospital to function it must have power and water to provide critical lifesaving services such as dialysis and ventilators. These systems require continuous power and water to function so redundancies must be incorporated into planning.
Hospitals are inherently soft targets and susceptible to acts of violence (active assailants, bomb threats, etc.). It’s a delicate balance between safety and security and creating an open welcoming environment for employees and patrons.
Hospital Incident Command System (HICS) is not the same as Incident Command System (ICS), they are very similar but not the same and the Emergency Managers role is slightly different in HICS. In ICS the EM best fits as either IC, OSC, or PSC in HICS the most suitable role for the EM is as the Liaison Officer being the most connected to community resources.