Archive for: Emergency preparedness

NFPA unveils new standard to help with response to active-shooter incidents

By: May 1st, 2018 Email This Post Print This Post

Early this year, the NFPA promised to fast-track a new standard to help first responders, healthcare providers, facility managers, and others prepare for an active-shooter incident, and they have delivered, complete with its own acronym.

NFPA 3000, a Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER), is now available in paperback for $52, or, as with other NFPA codes and standards, it is also available on the National Fire Protection Association’s website for free in a read-only format. The format cannot be printed, searched, or copied. But it is a quick read at only 48 pages.

Designed as a roadmap for the multidisciplinary response needed in the aftermath of an active-shooter incident, there is a separate chapter for “Hospital Preparedness and Response for Out-of-Hospital ASHER Incidents.”

The chapter outlines minimum expectations for hospitals in preparing for, reacting to, and receiving patients from an active-shooter event in the area. Among other things, it says hospitals should:
• plan and drill regularly with other local authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs)
• have at least two ways to communicate with public safety officials about how patients are being distributed to health care sites, and to test communications at least once a month
• expect spontaneous arrivals of injured patients and those looking for them
• have a way to identify victims and reunite children with their families
• and have a security plan to restrict access as needed, and to search the facility for devices and weapons if that becomes a concern

Other chapters detail expectations for the variety of first responders, government agencies, and other organizations who might be involved in an ASHER response to prepare, plan, and recover from an incident.

The publication marks only the second time the NFPA has fast-tracked a provisional standard.

While most standards or codes can take years of planning, the ASHER standard was born of an urgency brought by the request of Otto Drozd, the chief of Orange County Fire and Rescue in Florida, three months after the June 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

In that attack, 49 people died and more than four dozen others were shot, with many of the injured walking to nearby hospitals or in some cases physically carried by friends or others down several blocks. Since then, hospitals nationwide have responded to mass shooting incidents at a church, a concert, and a high school, among others.

At the time of Drozd’s request for a standard, there was an abundance of guidance material available but “there was no consensus standard for the components of a multidisciplinary response for preparedness, response, and recovery to active shooter and/or hostile events,” notes the NFPA in the opening to NFPA 3000.

A committee of 46 experts from law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, hospitals, physicians’ groups, and others was formed to receive technical, expert, and public comments and arrive at a consensus of standards.

The fast-tracked standard will now move into the normal biennial review and update process for other NFPA publications, according to the NFPA.

Editor’s note: This blog post was written by A.J. Plunkett, our colleague over at DecisionHealth.

New report on emergency preparedness says U.S. healthcare system is improving

By: April 18th, 2018 Email This Post Print This Post

We recently published online an article from the upcoming edition of our Healthcare Life Safety Compliance newsletter about a recent report by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security that examined how the U.S. healthcare system has fared while responding to emergencies both large and small.

Their conclusion? The bigger the emergency, the less prepared healthcare facilities are for handling the crush of patients that come through their doors.

“Although the healthcare system is undoubtedly better prepared for disasters than it was before the events of 9/11, it is not well prepared for a large-scale or catastrophic disaster,” the authors wrote in the report, which was released in late February. “Just as important, other segments of society that support or interact with the healthcare system and that are needed for creating disaster-resilient communities are not sufficiently prepared for disasters.”

Their research, however, spanned from 2010 to 2015, meaning that responses to recent emergencies such as Hurricane Harvey, the wildfires that torched California, the harrowing mass shootings at a country music concert in Las Vegas and at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida were not examined.

Now a new report has come out, this one concluding that hospital readiness for managing health emergencies has improved over the last five years.

From our colleagues at Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare:

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) this week released the 2018 National Health Security Preparedness Index, which found that the U.S. scored a 7.1 out of 10 for preparedness, up 3% over the last year and almost 11% since the Index was begun in 2013.

The assessment found improvements in most states, but also noted serious inequities in health security across the country, according to a RWJF release. Maryland was the highest scoring state, 25% higher than the lowest-ranked states, Alaska and Nevada. The report found that states in the Deep South and Mountain West scored poorly compared to those in the Northeast and Pacific Coast.

“Five years of continuous gains in health security nationally is remarkable progress,” said Glen Mays, PhD, MPH, who led the University of Kentucky research team that developed the index, in the release. “But achieving equal protection across the U.S. population remains a critical unmet priority.”

The index found that 18 states had preparedness levels exceeding the national average, while 21 states fell below the average. Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia increased their overall health security last year, with eight remaining steady and four declining.

So, while this new RWJF report suggests that the response of the U.S. healthcare system to emergencies has generally improved in recent years, a lot of work still needs to be done, which aligns with what the authors of the report from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security wrote a couple of months ago.

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