CHAPTER 39 Disaster Preparedness and Response
A disaster is a catastrophic event that overwhelms available resources. Disasters can result from natural hazards such as tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes, ice storms, droughts, and floods, for example, or they can include technologic disasters to such as building collapses, hazardous materials releases, industrial accidents, and acts of terrorism including the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) such as chemical, biologic, radiologic, nuclear, or explosive devices (see Chapter 40). To understand and plan for a disaster, it is important to review the stages of a disaster. Effective response to a disaster can be summarized in the traditional emergency management phases. Emergency nurses need to be familiar with their expected role in a disaster situation, including having a personal response plan. Disaster planning and response are cyclic processes that are ever evolving. Disasters are managed by recognizing and planning a series of predictable stages, and they are addressed in the classic emergency management stages of response, recovery, mitigation, and preparedness. Responding to a disaster should be accomplished within an incident management system (IMS), to coordinate command and control, communications, and allocation of resources. Recipients of federal preparedness funding are required to comply with guidelines developed by the presidentially directed National Incident Management System (NIMS), which is housed within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). NIMS guidelines that affect hospital preparedness are developmental and can be viewed online at www.fema.gov/emergency/nims/index.shtm.