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June 01, 2018 (Cleveland)

Speakers Share Emergency Preparedness Tips Based on Real-World Experience



Speakers Share Emergency Preparedness Tips Based on Real-World ExperienceOn Friday, June 1, professionals from around the region had the opportunity to glean valuable insight from individuals with real-life experience managing and responding to emergency events. Attendees of the 10th Annual Northeast Ohio Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) Meta-Coalition Conference heard from speakers who shared a variety of emergency preparedness tips and lessons learned.

Especially well-received were presentations by Sunset Retirement Communities & Services of Grand Rapids, Michigan, in which that organization shared its experience during an evacuation, and by the director of Emergency Management and Fire Prevention at The Ohio State University, who discussed the response to the November 2016 campus attack. The agenda received high marks across the board from attendees, who also gleaned useful insights from the Ohio Emergency Management Agency on the potential pitfalls of social media, the Veterans Health Administration on the Hurricane Maria response, and members from 52nd Civil Support Team based in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, who provided an overview of their mission and services, as well as a tour of one of their response vehicles. 

Key conference takeaways for attendees included the following emergency preparedness tips:

  • As part of preparation efforts, it’s crucial to thoroughly understand, before an event, the capabilities of your response partners and what they are equipped to do to assist your organization as you care for your patients and staff.
  • An emergency declaration is not necessary to request the assistance of the Civil Support Team. They are prepared to be on the road within 90 minutes of notification for chemical and radiation incidents.
  • During an event requiring evacuation, it’s important to keep in mind evacuees sometimes need to stay evacuated for months, sometimes in distant locations, waiting for infrastructure to be restored. Volunteers also must be prepared for weather conditions and a lack of amenities when they report.
  • Training and exercises work. Ohio State had just exercised their active shooter response the week before the campus attack, which assisted them in their response to this event.
  • When it comes to the use of social media during a response, a critical consideration is knowing who your audience is and how to effectively communicate with them. Otherwise, the use of social media can go awry during an event.

This free annual conference is open to all planning and response partners in the region as an opportunity to learn from real event responses and network with each other. The conference’s nearly 100 attendees represented a broad array of organizations, including hospitals, long-term care organizations and other healthcare providers, emergency management, first responders, public health, behavioral health, developmental disabilities, medical reserve corps and county emergency response team, the amateur radio emergency service, academia and others.

The Center for Health Affairs’ Beth Gatlin, RN, MA-HSM, director, ASPR Emergency Preparedness, and Andrea Bishop, BSN, project manager, Emergency Preparedness, were key members of the committee that planned and orchestrated the conference, which was paid for with funding received through the federal hospital preparedness planning grant. For more about The Center for Health Affairs’ emergency preparedness work, contact us.