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Global and Public Health: Community Emergency Preparedness

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    The forest fire has caused smoky conditions and decreases the air quality for people living in the community. With these conditions many people within the neighborhood are affected. The episode continued by explaining and exploring the different people involved and suffered from this forest fire. It showed the emotional, physical, and mental ailments of those living in the neighborhood. With the decrease of air quality the local hospital has seen an influx of patients to the emergency room for treatment. The hospital is overcome with the needs of people coming for treatment related to the forest fire.

    The nurses who currently work on the medical-surgical floor have been juggling patients throughout the day by discharging, admitting, and transfer patients through the hospital try to and make room for new patients who need to be admitted. Kate, RN has been working steadily on her unit to provide care to her patient, but felt overwhelmed by her patient load. Even though Kate is overworked, she will continue to provide care to those who need it. Other nurses on the floor are dissatisfied with their jobs currently. It is affecting moral on the unit that which ultimately will affect patient care and outcomes.

    A neighborhood emergency does not make things any better on the nursing unit. Pat, the nurse manager for the floor is upset the hospital is imposing mandatory overtime for his staff. There is already a nursing shortage for the unit, and the overtime will continue to make the moral low. The overtime is to combat the nursing shortage, but with the forest fire and increase of patients seen and admitted to the hospital this comes a poor time. Many nurses are already stressed and unable to manage the current workload. Having to work extra is a burden on many who are already exhausted from the recent events.

    Kate is one of the first responders to this emergency without even being on the fire lines with the firefighters or in the emergency room with her colleagues. She is providing immediate care to those in need of her skills and expertise. The forest fire is not only showing its effect on the local hospital but also the neighborhood senior center. Many seniors have voiced concerns over the increase smoke in the air and the problems they have with breathing because of it. One senior in particular Mr. Dallion has stated that he has needed to increase his oxygen use since the forest fire has been burning.

    He is also concerned with a cough that has developed also. Karen, RN that works at the senior center is concern for the elderly that she knows because of the air quality and the problems the elderly have reported. Karen has made it a point to tell the seniors to stay inside if possible to avoid breathing the poor air quality. With this Karen is hoping that none of her seniors will have to be seen or treated at the local hospital. Karen having a good relationship with most of the elderly at the senior center should have a positive impact on them during this crisis.

    The elderly will be more likely to use her advice and stay indoors to avoid the unhealthy air quality currently affecting the local neighborhood. With the elderly being at such a high risk for complications because of pre-existing conditions it is important for Karen to be vigilant in helping to educate the elderly at the senior center. Not only are the elderly affected by the poor air quality by the forest fire but also the increase of children seen by Violet, RN a school nurse for the neighborhood.

    One student named Kelsey Young has been sent to the nurse’s office by her teacher because she is experiencing a constant cough, respiratory wheezing, and breathing problems. Most likely the related symptoms are associated with the poor air quality related to the recent fires. Violet would be probably able to make more of an impact if she was not split between different schools during this time. For Kelsey Young it is fortunate that Violet was working at the school during this time could notify her mother so that she can be taken to her physician to get the required care that she is need to help with her respiratory issues.

    Even though Kelsey mother Angie did not feel that her daughter needed to go to the doctor she took the advice of the school nurse. Kelsey was treated with nebulizer treatments and steroid to help with the reactive respiratory disease she is suffering from that is aggravated by the fire. Kelsey will continue to improve as long as she stays with the treatment as prescribed by the Nurse practitioner and remains indoors until the air quality has improved in her area. The community health department that Carol Ramsey a certified midwife currently works at seems not to be effective by the forest fire.

    Her patients remain the same, in need of contraceptives, pregnancy testing, and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases. Carol would be a good resource to inform her clients during this time they should remain indoors as much as possible to prevent any symptoms they might acquire from the smoky conditions. Finally the Bley family is also affected by these recent events. Jimmy Bley has a history of emphysema and becomes short of breath with some of the simplest tasks. The smoky air condition’s would only aggravate his current emphysema and possibly send him to the hospital with exacerbation.

    Jimmy takes more concern with his wife Cecelia going out in the smoky conditions than he does himself. After that his wife has left the house with their daughter to go do laundry at the laundry mat Jimmy should remain inside until the air quality has improved. A broken dryer is not an emergency that needs to be immediately taken care of and possibly harm his health. The local public health office can assist those that may need guidenace during this time of the forest fire is related to health issues.

    The Public Helath nurses would be the first on the frontline to help those in the ommunity that are at high risk for developing complications from the poor air quailty. The American Red Cross is one type of organization that can help to assist this neighborhood during its time of need. The Red Cross provides shelters, feeds, and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families (American Red Cross, 2012).

    The Red Cross could also help the hospital by setting up a triage center outside the emergency room to help treat those that have less serious and life threating conditions. This could take a load off the hospital and the nurses who are working to help maintain a proper level care to their patients. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention can be a valuable resource for the community. The CDC gives tips and resources for people during a wildfire. According to the CDC smoke from wildfires can travel long distances.

    So even if the fire is burning several counties over, the residual smoke can still threaten people’s health (Prevention, 2011). In most of the national organizations that assist with emergencies and disasters, they all have the same common factor mentioned. Preparing for the emergency before it becomes a reality. Federal Emergency Management Agency also known as FEMA has a website with links to different disasters and takes the reader through the before, during, and after process that someone can do to prepare themselves for such a disaster.

    Some of the before information that could be helpful for the neighborhood if the forest fire should become closer is as follows: build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan. Have a plan and where to go if a disaster strikes. Install a dual-sensor smoke alarm on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms; test monthly and change the batteries at least once each year.

    Keep handy household items that can be used as fire tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chain saw, bucket, and shovel. Arrange temporary housing at a friend or relative’s home outside the threatened area in case you need to evacuate. Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. Select materials and plants that can help contain fire rather than fuel it. Place valuable papers, mementos, and anything “you can’t live without” inside the car in the garage, ready for quick departure. Any pets still with you should also be put in the car. Plan your water needs (Wildfires, FEMA). These are some of the helpful tips from FEMA to be used to prepare the community for the forest fire. As mentioned having an emergency kit is important during a disaster.

    It may be days after a disaster when local, state, or national help can be there to assist. An emergency kit should have the basic essentials of supplies that can last up to three or more days. These supplies should include but not limited to water, canned food, batteries, flashlight, change of clothing, and radio to hear the local news or emergency broadcasting. These of course, are just suggestions to help people become aware that a disaster can strike at any given moment and without warning.

    Being prepared is the only way that a neighborhood and the eople located within can be safe. In conclusion the public health care team can assist the community by holding local events with other local disaster and emergency agencies. By having the agencies present they can provide information regarding the types of supplies and equipment that might be needed if a local disaster should occur. I have personally found that having local agencies come into the schools and promote safety and awareness of events makes the children more prepared and less frightened if a disaster or an emergency should happen. Having people prepared and aware of their surroundings and needs could be the differences of having someone survive a disaster.


    1. American Red Cross. (2012). Retrieved from American Red Cross: http://www. redcross. org/about-us/mission

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