Good afternoon, ProviderNation.
Teaching disaster planning and emergency management concepts to long term care providers around the nation can be challenging when you consider that many Americans can never imagine themselves in the throes of disaster.
A large part of my curriculum focuses on the human reaction to crisis or disaster and barriers to response. Without a well-developed “culture” of preparedness, response, and recovery, providers may encounter less-than-successful outcomes during adverse events.
With the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy just past us, now is a good time to remember those who were lost as well as all who suffered the full impact of this historic disaster. It should not be forgotten that long term care providers were profoundly affected by Sandy, and many hard lessons were learned.
On the most basic level of developing a positive disaster planning and emergency management culture within a long term care facility, it is essential to establish protocols and training regimens that will address the practical elements of the management continuum as well as acknowledge the psychological barriers to effective response.
Those responsible for the development of programs, protocols, and procedures and the implementation of training, drills, and exercises can benefit from reading an eye-opening book by Amanda Ripley entitled, “The Unthinkable.” In an excerpt from her website, she describes the details of this riveting book, which will pique the interest of anyone involved with disaster planning and emergency management: “Half of Americans have been affected by a disaster of some kind. In big disasters, regular people are the first and most important rescuers on the scene. But very few of us know what to expect until it is too late.”
The book combines the stories of survivors with research into how the brain works under extreme duress. “The Unthinkable” attempts to answer the following questions: Why do some people freeze in the middle of a fire? How can someone override this instinct? Why do our senses of sight and hearing change during a terrorist attack?
Ripley, an award-winning Time magazine writer, examines how people experience fear, the phenomenon of crowd dynamics work, and why instincts sometimes fail during disasters.
“The Unthinkable” was published in 15 countries, and a documentary based on the book, “Surviving Disaster,” aired on PBS last year. It was selected by Hudson Booksellers as one of the Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2008.
Is this book a “must read?” In my opinion, absolutely. I am hoping that you will be inspired and motivated to breathe new life into your emergency management programs once you learn how a little bit of “situational awareness” can help people initiate an appropriate response to crisis or disaster.
Perhaps you can give this book as a gift to members of your team responsible for disaster management within your facility.
Go HERE to watch the documentary.
Stan Szpytek is the president of Fire and Life Safety (FLS) and is the life safety/disaster planning consultant for the Arizona Health Care Association and California Association of Health Facilities. Szpytek is a former deputy fire chief and fire marshal with more than 35 years of experience in life safety compliance and emergency preparedness. FLS provides life safety and disaster planning consultative services to health care and senior living providers around the nation. For more information, visit www.EMAllianceusa.com or e-mail Szpytek at Firemarshal10@aol.com.