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Assessing risk and planning for emergencies

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Assessing risk and planning for emergencies

First part of the Readiness Associates Self-Assessment survey helps risk managers at healthcare organizations focus on disaster preparedness

By Michael Boardman, CEO, Readiness Associates

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a four-part series about the Healthcare Facility Emergency Preparedness Self-Assessment unveiled in March 2019 by Readiness Associates to help facilities across the country prepare for natural and man-caused disasters. Part one deals with “Risk Assessment and Emergency Planning.”

The first step in determining whether a healthcare organization is prepared for a natural or man-caused disaster is discovering its level of risk and emergency planning in the context of its level of risk exposure. Appropriately, those areas of focus comprise Section 1 of Readiness Associates’ Healthcare Facility Emergency Preparedness Self- Assessment, a free online survey that can be completed in about 15 minutes.

“In each section of our self-assessment survey, we are asking for reflection on about a dozen or so carefully curated points,” said Vernon Jeffery, Readiness Associates lead strategist. “Depending upon the facility, when these reflections are taken together, they should either provide a sense of reassurance or set off alarms where opportunities for improvement exist.”

In our first section, “Risk Assessment and Emergency Planning,” participants are asked to rate 12 statements from 1 to 5, or from “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree.” Here are just two of the statements and the reasons they are important:

We have taken an “All Hazards” approach to the identification and assessment of risk.

As the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s ready.gov website points out: “There are many different threats or hazards. The probability that a specific hazard will impact your business is hard to determine. That’s why it’s important to consider many different threats and hazards and the likelihood they will occur.

“Strategies for prevention/deterrence and risk mitigation should be developed as part of the planning process. Threats or hazards that are classified as probable and those hazards that could cause injury, property damage, business disruption or environmental impact should be addressed.”

Our emergency plans take into consideration likely natural and man-made hazards specific to our geographical location.

For example, Bruce Brauninger, Readiness Associates chief operating officer and vice president of strategic partnerships, in a recent presentation to members of the New Mexico Health Care Association, spoke of the potential disasters that faced their state. They included: blizzards, earthquakes, fire, flooding, extreme heat, the Los Alamos National Labs (nuclear energy), pipeline explosions in oil areas, and a Waste Isolation Pilot Plant for nuclear waste in the southern part of the state.

"The Readiness Associates Healthcare Facility Emergency Preparedness Self- Assessment is a great starting point,” Jeffery said. “We are not saying that all that you need to do to prepare your healthcare facility to manage every emergency is to address the 49 points of our self-assessment survey. However, we think that anyone would be hard-pressed to devise a comprehensive, effective emergency preparedness program for a healthcare facility without including the points addressed in our self-assessment tool.”

In all, the Readiness Associates self-assessment survey asks respondents to rate those 49 statements over four sections about their facilities’ readiness in a variety of areas. Participation is voluntary, and the information provided will be kept strictly confidential. We invite you to take the survey here.