To prepare a hospital to function in an emergency means implementation of a multi-faceted process that requires answers to a tremendous number of questions–Where can we create additional patient care areas in an emergency? How will we keep intubated patients safe if the hospital loses power? How can we make our food supply last if delivery trucks cannot get to the hospital?

Experts understand the importance of gathering information from reliable resources to help guide their decision-making. Here is a list of some of the best resources to utilize when developing your hospital’s emergency preparedness plan:

The Joint Commission

The Joint Commission’s Standards for Emergency Management provide the framework for what hospitals should try to achieve through their Emergency Preparedness Plans. To aid in this process, their Emergency Management portal can be accessed online. Here, you can find links categorized by specific disaster type, and read about lessons learned from previous disasters.
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Center for Disease Control (CDC)

The CDC has sections dedicated to emergency health professionals and healthcare facilities.  You can learn about potential public health threats in order to mount the proper defense.

There are also links to some really useful planning tools, including:

  • A Hospital Surge Evaluation tool to help hospitals evaluate how well they can handle a mass casualty event
  • A Hospital All-Hazards Assessment Interactive Tool is available to try and pinpoint areas of weakness in your hospital’s emergency plan
  • A Disaster Preparedness Budget Model can be used to determine what finances and resources may be needed when disaster strikes.  

You also can access Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication training, which provides excellent guidance for effective communication during a crisis situation.

US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) created a Technical Resources Assistance Center and Information Exchange (TRACIE). This provides a large database of searchable materials related to disaster medicine and emergency preparedness. Through TRACIE, you can also access one-on-one support, as well as a peer discussion board for relevant topics.

The Hospital Preparedness Program is another source of information and potential funding to help hospitals improve their preparedness efforts.

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Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) 

In 2006, the VA released their VA Pandemic Influenza Plan.  Not only is this an excellent resource for helping hospitals prepare for a pandemic, but on a more general level, it provides a great list of supplies that hospitals should have on hand for emergency situations. This includes both durable resources such as mechanical ventilators and portable suction machines, and consumable resources such as respirators and IV equipment. This gives emergency preparedness experts a helpful starting point for stockpiling strategies. 

No one individual can be expected to know it all when it comes to a topic as expansive as hospital emergency preparedness planning, but having the right resources allows for thoughtful and well-informed decisions.

Editor's note: This blog was originally from October 2015. It has been re-published with additional up to date content.