We are approaching the Wet Season in the northern parts of Australia and the hot Summer time in Central and Southern States. This can be a time of torrential downpours or searingly hot winds depending on where you live and work, and that’s just on a normal day. But what if it’s more than that?

Part of being prepared means ensuring you have a well thought out Emergency Management Plan in place.If you live in rural areas or more remote areas of Australia you may need to prepare for cyclones, flooding or bushfires. How prepared is your organisation?

Do you have an Emergency Management Plan?

I know a lot of services are linked to larger organisations and communities and may come under their emergency management plan, however there are still a number of small, independent services who need to do their own preparation. Additionally, many of the Aged Care services we work with still need to develop their own service-level plans which they then forward to their respective community manager.

In the past, we have discussed individual client Emergency Response Plans. If there is an emergency you’ll want to be able to access those documents in a hurry so that you can check on, and support the most vulnerable in your community.

But being prepared is more than having a response plan for each individual, it’s about taking a whole-organisation approach. So where do you start?

Research

  • Know your enemy. When leaders are coming up with a tactical response in warfare, they research their enemy; they want to know all about them. Likewise, you need to research the potential enemy to service continuity. Is it potential cyclones ripping through your community and cutting off power, wreaking havoc on buildings and essential services? Is it flooded roads that cut off your normal supply routes?
  • Conduct a risk assessment and cover off on the identified risks, the likelihood of the event occurring and the impact of the occurrence on your service. Look wider than just the physical location of your service and investigate the impact on both clients and your staff.
  • Consider your critical areas – perhaps it is food storage in the event the power is out for a number of days, or perhaps you have clients living on site who are on dialysis machines.
  • Workshop a set of scenarios (this is a great activity to do with staff as they are more likely to come up with culturally appropriate responses and be more engaged and responsive in the event of an actual emergency) and plan out possible responses.

Develop Your Emergency Management Plan

  • Write up a list of emergency contacts e.g. Police or Clinic or nearest Hospital
  • Ensure you can find those individual client emergency response plans – a separate folder that contains a copy of all of these is good to put together. Remember to keep it up to date!
  • Identify your most vulnerable clients and discuss their needs with staff should an emergency situation occur. Do they need to be evacuated if an emergency situation threatens?
  • Identify key documents that need to be protected. Is there a way that these can be placed in a secure and safe location or backed up to an organisation or cloud-based server?
  • Create emergency kits by the 1st November each year. You may need to develop one for the Aged Care centre and smaller kits for clients.

These should contain:

  • Torch
  • Matches
  • First aid kit
  • Portable radio and spare batteries
  • Plastic bags
  • Water

You may also need to develop post-emergency kits that include some essential food items such as tea, milk powder, flour, oil and tinned food.

You will need sufficient quantities of food and water to keep your clients fed and watered for a few days in case the roads and supplies are cut off.

If you have clients who use continence aids, ensure that you have sufficient supplies of these on hand to last a month or more.

Practice your response

Just like carrying out a fire evacuation drill assists in the incidence of a fire, carrying out a simulated emergency response day with staff and clients can be valuable. You can make this both fun and educational with morning tea or lunch put on at the centre and getting people involved in making decisions about the enactment of the plan should it be required.

Yes, it takes time each year to prepare for the worst-case scenario and to write up your emergency management plan, however ‘being prepared’ is not just for boy scouts. Should you come up against an emergency situation you’ll be thankful for the work and time you have invested.

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Carrie

Carrie is a passionate advocate for the provision of quality, community based, aged care.
In her spare time, while she ages gracefully, she helps out with kids theatre, rides an electric bike and drags her husband off to explore the world as often as possible.

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