Disaster Nursing

When a disaster hits, it affects the whole community and it is up to the health care team to put together the pieces and help those in need. Nurses have many roles in the event of a disaster in order to minimize casualties and support the victims. Some of these roles include triage, which is when the nurse’s do a rapid assessment on the patients to see which patient’s will need priority care. Another role is detection, meaning the nurse will recognize signs and symptoms, modes of transmissions, and know proper antidotes. Accessing critical resources is another role, as the nurse will have to act quickly to gather the equipment they need. Nurses also will need to understand and know isolation and quarantine procedures and policies so if an outbreak of something were to happen, they would be prepared to protect themselves and others. Nurses will also need to be good communicators as disasters are chaotic and things will need to be done quickly and precisely. With effective communication comes better outcomes with all people involved. I think that with a natural or man-made disaster, nurses have an equal role to the patient and to themselves. It goes without saying that a nurse signs up to help those in need when they are at their most vulnerable. That is our primary role as a nurse everyday, and it is no exception to a disaster. That being said, disasters can be ongoing for days or even weeks. It is up to us to know our limits and when to step back and take care of ourselves. How can the nurse do the best they can for patients when they are sleep deprived, dehydrated, aching, and starving? With some self-advocacy, and self-care, nurses can better take care of their patients.

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