Emergency Preparedness Planning

Karen Morris in Clinical & Quality

With the advent of the hurricane season, now is the time to increase awareness related to emergency preparedness planning.  Every opportunity (staff meetings, newsletters, bulletin boards, paycheck stuffers) should be taken to keep residents, staff and visitors engaged in the emergency planning process both in the facility and in their homes.  The emergency preparedness cycle consists of four elements, each as important as the next: 

  • Mitigation – Review all your threats by doing a comprehensive risk assessment. Threats can be 1) external, such as weather related events, fire, explosions; 2) internal, such as unwanted intruders (disgruntled employee and/or family member or stranger), fire, explosions or toxic exposures or 3) local events such as nearby railroads, highways or factories.

  • Preparedness – Consists of developing a plan to meet the needs of residents and staff based on your risk assessment. This includes training, testing the plan (drills) and making revisions to the plan based on results of the drills and changes in the risk assessment.

  • Response -  Instituting an all hazards approach will allow you to implement common strategies to address the most common issues related to most events:

o The need to evacuate (ie within an hour, several hours, days; use of the eFINDS system)

o Determining when to sheltering in place, who should SIP, adequate supplies/staff

o Lack of electricity (ie fuel for emergency generators)

o Lack of phone service, land lines and/or cell coverage (ie alternatives such as texting, satellite phones)

o Lack of food and water (ie 3, 5 or 7 day supply based on location and purveyor availability, rotate emergency supplies into current supply to avoid out of date stock)

o Lack of staff (ie communication with staff, accuracy of contact information, transportation issues, staff accommodations)

o Need for external support (ie emergency contact numbers for outside agencies)

  • Recover- Planning should include strategies for dealing with the aftermath of the event (ie how clean up will occur, repatriation), completing an “after action report” to document the who, what, when, where and why of the event to assist the organization in reviewing and revising the emergency plan; reviewing the costs of the event; debriefing with staff and residents and allowing for their physical and psychological recovery; and follow up with other providers and regulatory agencies as necessary.

The CMS Emergency Preparedness Checklist, which was issued in S&C letter 14-12 (see attached and member mailing March 6, 2014) provides an excellent resource for reviewing and revising your emergency plans. While it is not mandated to be used, it provides additional guidance and includes many issues addressed in the 2013 proposed changes to the emergency preparedness regulations.

Additional resources are available at:

Karen Morris
, RN, MS
Director, Clinical & Quality Services
518-462-4800, ext. 15