After you’ve been working in the hospital for a while, it is clear to see that everyone has a defined role. Whether a nurse, a respiratory therapist, a laboratory technician or a facilities manager, all team members know their job duties, their scheduled work hours, and the hospital units that they cover.
Yet if a disaster strikes, this can all quickly change. In such situations, your hospital may be forced to enact their Emergency Operations Plan, which dictates how the facility will respond to the disaster. An Incident Command Center will be mobilized, and appointed individuals will be responsible for overseeing specific elements of your hospital’s operations.
The successful implementation of the Emergency Operations Plan requires that these appointed individuals can coordinate their efforts and delegate duties downstream so that staff are aware of what their role will be during this time. Let’s take a look at some of the key players and what exactly they will manage.
The Incident Commander
The Incident Commander is ultimately responsible for leading the disaster response. He/she will provide direction, manage resources, and authorize evacuation if necessary. If the positions below haven’t already been assigned, the Incident Commander can assign these positions as needed during a disaster.
The Logistics Chief
The Logistics Chief is in charge of managing the physical supplies. This can include food, shelter, medical supplies and equipment. He/she will work to ensure that the necessary items are distributed as needed, either to replenish depleted supplies or to assist in the creation of patient care areas.
The Nursing Chief
This position will help direct patient care services. He/she will organize the flow of nursing activities. Nurses may need to be pulled from their regular units to help in the ER, or a pool of additional nursing personnel may need to be called into work.
The Medical Director
Similar to the Nursing Chief, the Medical Director will be responsible for coordinating physicians. He/ she will help make sure proper physician coverage is available to meet patient demand.
The Ancillary Service Chief
Pharmacy, radiology, laboratory- these are just a few of the ancillary services that this individual will oversee. For example, if there is an infectious disease outbreak, he/she will work towards the provision of antibiotics, antivirals or vaccines, as well as making sure that the lab is properly supported.
The Security Chief
This position will interact with local police and fire departments. It will oversee the protection of hospital entrances and exits, in addition to the flow of traffic in and around the hospital.
The Facilities Management Chief
This individual will help maintain and repair hospital utilities and equipment, as well as plan for redundant measures in the case of utility failure. From power to water to medical gases and medical vacuum. the Facilities Management Chief will work to make sure patients can be safely and properly treated during a disaster.
Keep in mind, this is just a general model of how an Emergency Operations Plan can account for the changing roles and responsibilities of hospital employees during a disaster. Each of the leaders discussed will appoint several others beneath them to manage more specific components.
Emergency Operations Plans will vary from hospital to hospital, but the most important element will be consistent- having defined roles and clear communication between leading individuals will result in the execution of a “bulletproof” plan.