The role of the forensic nurse in disaster preparedness is anticipating and preventing adverse health effects of a disaster, to the extent possible, by utilizing the nursing process of assessment and analysis, nursing diagnosis, plan development, plan implementation, and evaluation.
This also was a definition of what nurses can do in Diasters. What Is Disaster Nursing? Disaster nursing refers to a situation in which a health professional, usually a registered nurse or nurse practitioner, responds to a crisis situation by volunteering with an aid organization or volunteer responder organization.
Nurses provide physical, emotional, and mental care to patients during times of war, large-scale population displacement, and local emergencies that strain community resources. Complex problem-solving skills and the ability to coordinate and delegate care to allow nurses to adjust to the situation and still provide quality care to patients in need. To get involved, you first need to decide how you want to contribute:
Are you willing to travel across the country at a moment’s notice, or would you prefer to work locally?
Are there certain types of disasters in which you do not want to participate?
Is there a particular phase of disaster preparedness that interests you, such as preparedness, relief, response, or recovery?
Organizations and registries for disaster nursing
Whether you’d like to assist locally or travel out of state, there is a role for you in disaster nursing. Nurses who are pregnant or have chronic conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, should not accept stressful travel assignments to provide disaster relief. There is plenty of work to be done from home. For example, through the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA)External link:open_in_new, volunteer nurses train others and distribute preparedness materials in their local communities. You can also consider working directly with your hospital’s administration or with local community leaders to create emergency response plans.
If you would like to register as a disaster-response nurse, here are a few organizations to consider:
National Disaster Medical System (NDMS)External link:open_in_new: This group supports the federal government’s relief efforts by forming Disaster Management Assistant Teams (DMATs) of medical and paraprofessional medical staff. DMAT team members are activated for two-week cycles and are considered part-time federal employees. https://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/responders/ndms/Pages/join-ndms.aspx
The American Red Cross: External link:open_in_new This nonprofit organization provides food and shelter, as well as physical and mental health aid to more than 70,000 people each year. Nurses may affiliate with local Red Cross Chapters, and volunteers must attend training courses before they are activated. https://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer.html#step1
The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC): External link:open_in_new Operating both a medical and civilian reserve corps, the MRC coordinates medical personnel to support and supplement the surge of patients admitted to medical facilities after a disaster. Medical volunteers will work in healthcare facilities to treat patients quickly and effectively as a support team to full-time staff. The MRC is operated by a branch of the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General. https://aspr.hhs.gov/MRC/Pages/index.aspx
RN Response Network (RNRN): External link:open_in_new Developed after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, RNRN directly sends nurses to provide medical care to victims. The group offers housing, transportation, and out-of-state licensure for volunteers. http://www2.pcrecruiter.net/pcrbin/regfirst.aspx?uid=haiti%20import.nnu&title1=Volunteer
Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESAR-VHP): External link:open_in_new The ESAR-VHP is a state-based registry for healthcare volunteers. All nurses are eligible for registration, but they are not required to respond during a disaster. Each state maintains its own ESAR-VHP regulations, and the group focuses on advanced training, credentialing, and registration to get volunteers to the front lines more quickly. https://www.phe.gov/esarvhp/pages/about.aspx