Role of Public Health Personnel
During the Franklin County disaster, there were numerous individuals that participated in the disaster response. Each member had a specific role in the Public Health Team. The Community Health Nurse was crucial in the efforts to assure that the residents of Franklin County were safe and their houses were repaired from the damages caused by the storm.
By going door-to-door to asking questions from a prepared survey, the Community Health Nurse was able to better evaluate the needs of the residents and assess the level of coping that was necessary and report back to the team in order to rally support in order to mend the damage of the storm. Later the Community Health Nurse was able to provide support by offering assistance by phone through the disaster hotline, to support the residents and offer guidance of whom to contact for further assistance in matters that need to be attended further by individuals with certain specialties.
Chain of Command
In the Franklin County crisis, the team put an Emergency Operations Plan in place to establish a clear line of people in the chain of command. At the top of the chain of command was the County Emergency Manager as the Commander, followed by the Operations Chief, Logistics Chief, Financial and Administrative Chief and lastly the Planning and Intelligence Chief.
While the Commander has his hands full he delegated responsibility to the Operations Chief to oversee the responsibilities of the Medical and Health Branch Director, the Community Service Branch Director, the Fire Branch Director, the Law Enforcement Director and the Public Works Director. The Public Health Group was supervised by the Medical Health Director. The Planning, Operations, Logistics, and Finance and Administrative Chiefs all reported to the Incident Commander. All tiers worked hard together to communicate the needs that needed to be accomplished in order to keep the residents safe during the Franklin County disaster.
During the door-to-door visits that the Community Health Nurse conducted, different scenarios presented that required outside resources the nurse was unable to complete herself. In order to meet the needs of the residents the Community Health Nurse used her resources of Environmental Health Specialist for the first household she visited, in order to assist in the cleanup of a spill.
For the second household the nurse was able to suggest a nearby shelter that could help the family with their needs until a visit from a social service worker could be set up. With the third family who spoke Spanish only, the nurse was able to use her limited communication to provide information for cleanup after the disaster.
The nurse can also plan for an interpreter to join her on her next visit to provide more thorough details. And lastly for the fourth resident, the nurse was able to plan for him to evacuate to a shelter in order for him to obtain his blood pressure medication. The Community Health Nurse was able to use resources provided by the community of Franklin County in order to meet the needs of all the residents she visited.
Actions of Community Health Nurse
Although the Community Health Nurse was able to use appropriate resource to help the residents, she was faced with emergency situations prior to her being able to use those resources. In the first house the nurse encounter a potential chemical spill and had to advise the resident not to attempt to clean it up prior to inspection from a specialist to avoid being expose to toxins.
The second household was in crisis following the disaster; the nurse was able to calm the mother down by providing support to the desperate parents by assuring that social services would make a visit soon in order to find way to reduce the families stress. At the third house, although the nurse was faced with language barriers, she was able to provide knowledge through pamphlets to educate the family about potential exposure due to their poorly ventilated house.
And at the last house the nurse was able to assess the resident for hypertension and arrange for him to get his blood pressure medication at a local shelter nearby. Throughout all the home visits, the nurse was able to remain calm in order to provide all the residents reassurance in their time of crisis.
Coping with Aftermath
In the first house the nurse was able to help the resident cope with his basement flooding and chemical spill in his shed by providing adequate
information regarding chemical spills and cleanup techniques. The nurse was also able to reassure the resident by arranging for a visit from the Environmental Health Specialist to evaluate the chemical spill. By doing this the stress and concern was lightened for the resident. In the second house, the stress level was high for the parents.
The nurse was able to provide supplies for the infant and suggest evacuation for the family while their power remains to be out. In order to move on from this disaster the nurse arranged a visit from social services to provide support in order to cope with their stressful time. At the third household the nurse was able to keep the residents safe by providing information about keeping water and dietary needs safe. This calmed their fears of keeping their family safe and healthy in their home.
For the last house, the nurse was able to assess the man’s blood pressure immediately to assure him good health and alleviate his stress level. She was able to further lessening his stress by getting the man to a safe shelter in order to get his blood pressure medications in order.
To further the support during the door-to-door visits the nurse could have offered to help put together volunteers to help the resident with the basement cleanup in order to move out any heavy object in order to remove the stagnant water. In the second house, the nurse could have also offered to arrange childcare for a few hours in order for the parents to complete necessary tasks or receive a mental break to lessen their stress level. The nurse could have immediately retrieved a translator for the third house to immediately alleviate stress of the residents. An in the last house, the nurse could have arranged for the resident to have daily blood pressure checks for the following week to assure that the blood pressure regiment was successfully in order.
Preparation of Nurses
Luckily the small community of Franklin County was able to pull their resources together in order to provide adequate care and safety for their residents. Similar steps would need to be taken if this similar situation were to happen in a larger affected area. Similar chain of commands would
need to be put into place immediately in order to delegate tasks to those in supportive roles. It would proactive to have these roles in place for the local, state and federal agencies.
Preparations can be made with education of preparedness of protocols and training for any given crisis. Having the hospitals and local shelters aware of policies to put into place at the first sign of disaster will make the initial hours of the disaster more manageable. In order to lessen the anxiety of the communities, constant communication about preparation and evacuation plans is necessary in order to be able to work as a team when disaster strikes.
Courtney from Study Moose
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