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Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response in Schools Essay

The professional nurse uses clinical judgment and decision making skills to provide appropriate nursing care and collaborates with other health care professionals responding to the emergency or disaster. The purpose of this paper is to outline the professional nurse’s role and how the nurse works with other responding personnel as well as the community affected in the event of a tornado that affects a school. The Role of the Nurse A disaster is defined as any natural or human-made incident that causes disruption, destruction, and/or devastation requiring external assistance (Stanhope, 2012).

Schools are generally considered a safe haven for the children attending, but various types of emergencies can occur within the school walls that impact the school and the surrounding community. Severe weather can be a natural disaster when it produces tornadoes. Tornadoes have proven to be large scale disasters, causing problems ranging from loss of power to major structural damage and resulting in physical injuries, including loss of life. Tornadoes outside of a school setting cause severe damage and casualties, but when the tornado hits a school it becomes a disaster setting for all school personnel and the school nurse.

The school nurse immediately is looked at when there is any type of medical emergency. When there is an entire school that has been affected by destruction like a tornado, the school nurse is most definitely overwhelmed with patients. The nurse must be prepared and work closely with all responding personnel to ensure a timely response to all affected, inside the school and the parents affected outside the school. The school nurse is an expert in the nursing process and should utilize these steps in order to care for all involved in a disaster like this.

The professional nurse, through her education, should be prepared to utilize the nursing process (assess, plan, implement, evaluate). It is critical the school nurse knows his/her role prior to the disaster. His/her role includes triage, coordination of the first aid response team, and direct hands-on care to the victims of the emergency. The school nurse also plays an important role in the mental health support for the students and faculty involved during the emergency and in the recovery phase of the emergency. The nurse must be able to identify with and be able to communicate with all responding healthcare personnel.

The responding will include, but is not limited to, firefighters, both paid and volunteer, EMS personnel, Emergency Management Personnel, law enforcement, and local healthcare providers, such as physicians and nurses. The school board office will also have responding personnel to the scene as well. The main goal of the professional nurse is to communicate with all responding personnel and ensure that everyone involved in the response clearly knows their role and who they should report to. Nursing Strategies Every community can always improve in their response to emergencies and disasters.

Planning before the disaster hits is the key. Preparations for a facility’s response to an emergency involving realistic training exercises, (O’Boye, 2006) can greatly reduce anxiety levels and increase the likelihood of more positive results. Some examples of emergency and disaster planning includes, but is not limited to, mock exercises, more interagency cooperation in the mock exercises, identifying how we, as a community, will respond, who would be in charge of communications, who would be in charge of logistics, and a list of every one’s role in the emergency response (Laureate, 2012).

The school nurse is in a leadership position to provide continuous coordination and training of all school personnel as well as the communities involved as part of the school’s emergency plan. Implementing the National Incident Command system into the school’s emergency plan is vital. This system includes universal protocols and language (Stanhope, 2012). This system acknowledges the need for mutual aid response and allows for easy to understand communication and description of roles no matter what agency or community the responders come from.

This system should be implemented in every school because when a disaster strikes, especially at a school, people come from all over the country to render aid and this system provides a framework that everyone can understand. Summary The school nurse’s assistance in community-wide planning groups is helpful in the facilitation of a rapid, coordinated, effective emergency response within the framework of the Incident Command System.

This includes establishing standard emergency response plans and participating in skills, drills and exercises to evaluate the response capabilities of a school, as well as the effectiveness of the plan (NASN, 2013). Disasters occurring at schools create a larger scale disaster because not only is there the disaster inside the school, but there is also a disaster created outside the school from all of the parents wanting answers that sometimes takes hours to produce the answers to. Planning is the key and the school nurse is in the position to help in the planning of the response plan in these disasters.


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