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Lessons learned at healthcare facilities from recent wildfires

Posted: March 12, 2020

The latest issue of The Exchange PDF 6 MB newsletter from the Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE) shares lessons learned by medical facilities and communities in recent Colorado and California wildfires.

The issue offers real-life experiences from 2017 and 2019 wildfire response focusing on evacuation, patient tracking, managing planned power shutoffs and planning for the future.

Three of the seven articles in the issue deal with challenges medical facilities face when dealing with planned power outages. Outages increase risk to everyone involved and there should be a strategy to prioritize power usage to manage the shortage.

Facilities also need to expect an influx of people who use electricity-dependent medical equipment at home (e.g., ventilators, oxygen machines, etc.) as these individuals may be forced to seek out care at a medical facility with backup power.

One tool available to help public health officials and medical facilities plan for this is the emPOWER initiative. emPOWER is a secure, restricted mapping tool to help state and local health departments plan for and manage the needs of electricity-dependent Medicare beneficiaries in a geographical area. The resource is a great tool to help you meet the needs of one of your at-risk populations.

This issue of The Exchange also covers mass sheltering, hospital evacuation, managing stress and compassion fatigue among workers, and community recovery. It holds a number of important lessons and should be reviewed by hospital emergency managers and administration for planning purposes.

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