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Preparedness in Long-Term Care: A Novel Approach to Address Gaps in Evacuation Tracking

  • Emilie Y Prot (a1) and Bruce Clements (a2)

Abstract

With an aging population, the number of elderly individuals residing in long-term care (LTC) facilities will continue to grow and pose unique challenges to disaster preparedness and response. With this rapidly growing vulnerable population, it becomes imperative to identify enhanced and novel preparedness strategies and measures. LTC residents not only have complicated medical needs, including the timing of dispensing multiple medications, but frequently have cognitive and mobility deficits as well. In nearly every major disaster, elderly populations have suffered disproportionate morbidity and mortality. This is often due to elderly evacuees getting overlooked in the chaos of an initial response. Instituting measures to rapidly recognize this population in a crowd during an evacuation will reduce their risk. This commentary reviews the LTC facility evacuation challenges of the 2013 explosion of the West Fertilizer Company plant in West, Texas, and offers a novel solution of mandating the wearing of pink vests by all nursing home residents in case of an evacuation. The pink vests quickly alert disaster rescue and response workers of LTC residents with special needs. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2017;11:28–30)

Copyright

Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to Emilie Y. Prot, DO, Department of Preventive Medicine, Texas Department of State Health Services, 1100W 49th Street, MAIL CODE 1864, PO Box 149347, Austin, TX 787149347 (e-mail: eprot@alumni.nd.edu).

References

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1. Waco-McLennan County Public Health District in collaboration with the Texas Department of State Health Services. A Public Health Report on Injuries Related to the West (Texas) Fertilizer Plant Explosion, April 2013. http://www.waco-texas.com/userfiles/cms-healthdepartment/file/pdf/West-Texas-Report-6-2014.pdf. Accessed May 24, 2016.
2. Jervis, R, Stanglin, D. Search continues in rubble of Texas fertilizer blast. USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/04/18/waco-texas-plant-explosion/2092769/. Published April 18, 2013. Accessed August 24, 2016.
3. Associated Press. ATF sends team to plant explosion site. http://web.archive.org/web/20130425001021/http:/www.myfoxaustin.com/story/22012096/atf-sends-team-to-plant-explosion-site. Published April 18, 2013. Accessed August 24, 2016.
4. US Chemical Safety Board. Chemical Safety Board Deploying to West Fertilizer Plant Accident. Press Release. http://www.csb.gov/chemical-safety-board-deploying-to-west-fertilizer-accident-/#.UW-BuQULKws.facebook. Published April 18, 2013. Accessed August 24, 2016.
5. Press Secretary. President Obama Signs Texas Emergency Declaration. White House website. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/04/22/president-obama-signs-texas-emergency-declaration. Published April 22, 2013. Accessed August 24, 2016.
6. Harris-Kojetin, L, Sengupta, M, Park-Lee, E, et al. Long-term care services in the United States: 2013 overview. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat. 2013;3(37).
7. US Census Bureau. Facts For Features: Older Americans Month: May 2015. http://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2015/cb15-ff09.html. Published May 8, 2015. Accessed May 19, 2016.
8. Roush, RE, Tyson, SK. Geriatric emergency preparedness and response workshops: an evaluation of knowledge, attitudes, intentions, and self-efficacy of participants. Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2012;6(4):385-392. http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/dmp.2012.63.
9. Updated: Rescue efforts continue in fertilizer plant explosion. Waco Tribune. http://www.wacotrib.com/news/fire/updated-rescue-efforts-continue-in-fertilizer-plant-explosion/article_51082f25-3238-5c50-9d12-3f11bafcf352.html. Published April 18, 2013. August 24, 2016.

Keywords

Preparedness in Long-Term Care: A Novel Approach to Address Gaps in Evacuation Tracking

  • Emilie Y Prot (a1) and Bruce Clements (a2)

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