Disaster preparedness: Planning for the worst, hoping for the best - DVM
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Disaster preparedness: Planning for the worst, hoping for the best


3. Continuity of operations

Can you continue to operate without electricity? Do you have adequate supplies to carry you for 72 hours? Is there a system in place to get needed pharmaceuticals or vaccines in times of crisis? Do you have appropriate contact lists to communicate with clients?

While the government recommends that businesses and residents prepare for 72 hours, Case says, "I think you might want to prepare for two weeks." Decide on how long to stock supplies, but, even more importantly, have a system in place to get access to needed supplies in an emergency. Some practices have successfully collaborated with neighboring practices, and some local veterinary associations are helping to centralize this kind of contingency planning. Keep in mind that, during an emergency, your staff may have to deal with other personal emergencies as it relates to family. Many of the staff members may simply not be around the practice during an emergency. It's important to recognize it, and plan for it, Case adds.

4. Security

Veterinary hospitals house medications and certain DEA-scheduled substances. Build a security plan based around these important issues.

5. General emergency planning

Does your staff know what to do in case of an emergency or disaster? How will your team members respond? Are all of your practice's job functions appropriately assigned? Make time to practice the most probable disaster scenarios as a staff. This activity could also help improve your team's performance.

6. Fire prevention

Premise fires rank as the top disaster. Work with your local fire department to develop prevention and safety protocols for the practice.

7. Insurance and legal issues

Are you covered in the event of a flood? What happens when hospitalized patients are lost due to a catastrophic event? Can you legally treat a patient when an owner cannot be contacted? All of these questions need to be discussed with your practice's attorney and can be addressed in the hospital's disaster plan, Case says.

Veterinarians can also help clients prepare for emergencies by discussing identification and evacuation plans, she says.

"Preparedness and prevention are peace of mind. Help clients understand evacuation plans and the importance of up-to-date identification. "It's a huge role veterinarians can play on a day-to-day basis."


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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