When disaster strikes, healthcare professionals are needed and are a critical component to disaster management and relief efforts. Registered nurses and healthcare professionals are consistently amongst the most reliable responders following a natural disaster as their compassionate nature compels them to respond and assist those in need. While serving as a disaster relief nurse or healthcare professional can be a life-changing and humbling experience, not everyone is physically, emotionally or professionally prepared to assume the challenging role.
What Nurses Should Know About Volunteering for Natural Disaster Reliefs
Before heading to volunteering for natural disaster reliefs efforts, it’s critical to make sure you’re part of an organized response system before going to the location, as an influx of unexpected individuals can result in more chaos than good. Pre-registration is for the protection of the patients, as 10% of all people who show up to assist in relief aid fraudulently claim to be licensed nurses.
If you volunteer or sign up for travel nursing assignment to an area expecting or recently hit by a natural disaster, it’s important to prepare yourself ahead of time so you can remain professional and assist efficiently. Some aspects to consider and make arrangement for in advance are communication methods with your family, care for your children or dependents during your absence, and preparing yourself for any ethical situations that may arise. For example, in times of scarce resources and supplies, are you prepared to make patient care decisions?
Future natural disasters are inevitable. While we can’t stop them from happening, both healthcare organizations and professionals can be as prepared as possible for them to ensure ethical and safe environments for responses and relief.
Protecting Nurses and Healthcare Professionals’ Safety During Natural Disasters
It’s critical for nurses assisting during and after natural disasters to consider their own safety. When a hurricane rages through towns, cities and states, flooding roads, destroying homes and knocking down trees and power lines, hospitals may struggle to remain open to serve the injured and ill victims as well as their routine medical needs. Nurses are told to report to work and calls for volunteers, or per-diem nurses are made. While nurses vow to keep their patients care and well-being first, it’s important to stop and consider if it’s safe for you to travel to the hospital.
How Nurses Can Get Involved in Hurricane Relief Efforts in Florida
On Sept. 9, before Hurricane Irma made landfall in southern Fla., Gov. Rick Scott called for 1,000 nurses to help in the relief efforts in local special needs shelters.
The Florida Nurses Association provided the following instructions for those who may be able to help:
“The State Emergency Operations Center is seeking health care professionals willing to serve in disaster response roles for Hurricane Irma. We have an immediate need for medical personnel including nurses, physicians, emergency medical technicians, paramedics and pharmacists to work in medical needs shelters.
Please send an email to the Florida Department of Health at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (850) 245-4829 and indicate the following:
Your telephone number
Please note, Governor Scott’s September 4th Executive Order declares a state of emergency and grants authority for health service and treatment in Florida by any person who holds a valid and unrestricted and unencumbered license in another state, territory and/or district.
Thank you for your dedication and assistance to Floridians during this critical time.”
For more information on volunteering for Hurricane Irma, visit the Florida nursing volunteer website.
For more information on volunteering for Hurricane Harvey, visit the Texas nursing volunteer website.
For travel nurses interested in being part of the hurricane relief efforts, contact one of our experienced Nursing Staffing Specialists or give them a call at (800) 879-4471.