This guest post is by ‘The Supervisor’ and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .
I work in a little known position in a medium-sized hospital. I am called a ‘House Supervisor’. Almost all hospitals have one nurse (The Supervisor) who is in charge of EVERYTHING that goes on in a hospital 24/7. We do everything from getting new patients food late at night to walking into surgery and stopping inappropriate procedures. Doctors generally obey the Supervisor, or it can become uncomfortable for them. Supervisors are loved, adored, and feared. There was once a totally incompetent nurse who was never disciplined by their unit manager until a Supervisor was alerted. The nurse was terminated within 18 hours of the Supervisor’s notification, no questions. We know how to run a hospital and how a hospital runs.
Here are some notes for readers to consider:
When we have a ‘disaster drill’ at my hospital, we are commended on our ability to perform the necessary duties to control the situation by the County Office of Disaster Management. When they leave, we all know that if it was a real disaster, it would have been a total failure. Drills are controlled, disasters are pandemonium.
If even a medium disaster strikes, ALL hospitals within the area, and for some distance around, will be overwhelmed. Our hospital has 110 beds and usually runs at 80 to 90% full. Those ‘extra’ beds are actually in rooms for storage and generally not ready for anyone to stay in. Ten extra patients will close us…period. Yes, we can stack people in the halls and parking lots but that brings us to another problem, Staffing.
When we run at 90% full we frequently have to call in ‘registry’ nurses who are unfamiliar with our equipment and procedures. It is not that we don’t have staff, it is because they themselves have worked so many OT hours they are too tired to take an extra shift. The Staffing office of our hospital will frequently call almost every nurse to see if they will come in and even do PART of a shift. Bonuses are offered too and frequently turned down. When you are too tired you are unsafe. A tired nurse is a dangerous nurse.
But let’s say you make it to the hospital during the disaster. Everyone else will be coming here too, the injured, the scared, drug seekers, and the unprepared. Except the staff. They are not coming in. Many comments are made during trainings of, ‘I won’t be coming in’, ‘I will be taking care of my own’, ‘Forget about it’ or, ‘I live too far away’. The only ones who will be there are the ones who were on shift at the time and a few dedicated staff who will do what it takes to get to the hospital.
At the height of the ‘Bird Flu’ scare my wife was concerned for my safety. She said ‘What will you do?’ I said, ‘My job’.
Which brings us to the next issue, Transportation. Many of our staff live 20 miles or more from the hospital. If there is any disruption in transportation, no one will be able to come in to relieve the staff who are currently on duty. During Katrina, at least one hospital’s staff worked five days straight without power or relief. That is 120 hours. I was told they took cat naps to try to be somewhat functional. No power, no sewer, no refrigeration for the dead.
We are fortunate that our hospital actually owns many houses surrounding the facility and many staff live in ‘hospital housing’. The only thing is that if they are busy caring for their own or simply saying ‘forget about it’, there is no way to force them to come in. Without transportation, many of our staff simply live too far away to even try walking to work.
Once you get here you can feel certain we have power. We have a diesel generator capable of powering the hospital with enough fuel to last 30 days. If it breaks down we have a smaller backup generator capable of powering the ICU (12 beds) and a few other outlets for about 35 days barring a malfunction. Otherwise, no power, and certainly none to spare to ‘charge your cell phone and game boy’ with.
Regulations require hospitals to have 96 hours of food on hand. Four days of ‘normal’ operations. If we get an influx of injuries, their loved ones who bring them in, and the generally needy, our food supply will be exhausted much faster. No other food supplies are available and the closest grocery store is four miles away and we all know what happens to grocery stores in a disaster…
Also, when you arrive you need to know that currently there are MANY medications in very short supply right now nation wide. We don’t have many common medications and will quickly run out of what we have. Being a medium to small hospital we will not be re-supplied any time early or even late in a disaster. Even though we are located in a famous region of the U.S. you are still in the ‘sticks’ and it will take a long time to get anything here.
Law enforcement and crowd control? Don’t bet on it. There are about two Sheriff Deputies and two Highway Patrolmen in the area, besides, they will be very busy. Hospital Security team? Nice guys but the Chief and maybe two others have training. The others really don’t have any and you don’t get much for $10 an hour except to hear the latest hospital gossip.
What to do? Get yourself prepared, at least for a small disaster.
Learn first aid and any advanced first aid you can get. Get a first aid kit that contains 15-30 days of your medications. Be sure there is enough for a couple of friends just in case they need your help.
Have some food and water on hand specifically for a disaster. It easy to have some cans of food and dried food like ramen on hand. Not too nutritious but its filling. Water: Water is what the human body runs on. Three days without water and your dead. Have a case stored somewhere and a few bottles in every vehicle. I have a small travel trailer and I keep the fresh water tank full. I have 26 gallons of fresh water, always waiting for me if there is a problem with the supply.
Meet your neighbors and find out who they are. On my block there are three Nurse Practitioners! Handy to know if I get hurt (one is OB/GYN so I don’t think she can help me!!). Get to know your local Police. The officers who patrol your neighborhood need to know who you are and that you belong there. Also, if they know you, they may be more willing to help you. I once told a police officer who was an acquaintance of mine, I thought there was a house in the neighborhood selling drugs. He told me he and his partner rode bikes through town at night for fun and they would check it out. About two weeks later the people were gone from the house. It pays to know people.
Be sure everyone in the family has a plan of what to do in a disaster. I recently slipped a plan for my wife (who is definitely not into preparing) in to her purse. She came home that night and made fun of me for being all ‘weirded out’ on disaster. The next morning thanked me because she at least knew I was worried about her. I spend many hours at the hospital and the chances I will be home during a disaster are almost zero!! I have accumulated a small disaster package in the shed and one for each vehicle we own. I won’t go into details because there are lists ad nauseum on the internet.
Bottom line. Don’t come to the hospital unless it is a life or death event. You won’t get much help and you may be worse off than if you stayed in your home and took care of yourself. Get prepared. The Lord takes care of those who take care of themselves. He also takes care of fools and children but hopefully you are not the first one listed!!!
As for me, I will probably be at that hospital doing my job…pray for me.
This contest will end on August 7 2012 – prizes include:
First Place : 1 Year Subscription to AlertsUSA, 1 Radiation Safety Package consisting of the following; (1) NukAlert Radiation Monitor and Alarm (5) Radsticker Peel and Stick Dosimeters (1) Box Thyro Safe Potassium Iodide. All courtesy of AlertsUSA. A $150 gift certificate for Federal Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner Ammo. And a British Berkefeld water fillter system courtesy of LPC Survival. A total prize value of over $700.
Second Place : A six pack Entrée Assortment courtesy of Augason Farms, a Nukalert courtesy of Shepherd Survival Supply and a WonderMill Grain Mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads. A total prize value of over $550.
Third Place : A copy of each of my books “31 Days to Survival” and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of The Survivalist Blog dot Net and “Kelly McCann’s Inside the Crucible Set” courtesy of Paladin Press. A total prize value of over $200.
Contest ends on August 7 2012.