NCLEX Reviewer | Disaster Planning

• Disaster Preparedness
—Proactive planning is designed to structure the disaster response prior to its occurrence.
—Effective planning focuses on the problems that have the potential of occurring.
• There are two types of disasters: natural and man-made.
—Natural disasters are the “result of an ecological disruption or threat that exceeds the adjustment capacity of the affected community”(World Health Organization), for example, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes.
—Man-made disasters are emergency situations caused by human beings, for example, biological and biochemical terrorism, chemical spills, and nuclear events.
• Health care facilities may also identify disasters as external or internal.
—External disasters occur outside the hospital, involve a large number of injured persons who will be sent to the hospital, do not affect health care facilities’ infrastructure but do place a strain on their resources.
—Internal disasters cause disruption of routine services and result in a large number of persons getting injured.
• The two types of disaster planning are “agent-specific approach” and “all-hazards approach.”

—Agent-specific approach focuses on preparing for disasters that are most likely to occur in a community due to such factors as geographic locations (e.g., hurricane).
—All-hazard approach is a conceptual model that incorporates components of disaster management that are consistent across all types of disaster events, as many disasters have similarities.

• Communication is a major priority in any disaster plan. Planning for ways that health care workers and the public can receive accurate information is critical.
• Leadership responsibilities and the distribution of all types of resources need to be determined in advance.
• Advance warning and evacuation procedures need to be included in the planning.
• Use of mass media to disseminate information to the public, particularly regarding health problems such as water safety or food contamination is important.
• Triage and distribution of patients to health care facilities is crucial at the time of a disaster.

• Nurses should actively participate in the development of the disaster plan.
• They should define their roles across the disaster continuum.
• They should initiate disaster prevention measures such as removal of hazards, establish early warning systems, or develop public awareness campaigns.
• Nurse managers should identify educational needs of the nursing staff and other members of the health care community.
• The nursing department needs to maintain a nursing database to be able to rapidly mobilize nurse resources.


• Purpose: An emergency response plan is needed to have an organizational structure and procedures in place to respond to major emergencies.
• Such a plan addresses all types of emergencies in a systematic and coordinated manner.

• It should identify information systems and protocols necessary to handle all types of disasters.
• It must be comprehensive, simple, and flexible to be effective.
• Agency employees must be educated about the plan.
• Disaster drills need to be carried out to test the plan.
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