Spring has arrived, but unfortunately, with it comes tornado season brought on by the collision of warm air of the South and the colder air still creeping down from the North. As we’ve already seen in Oklahoma, spring tornadoes can be devastating. Memorial Day signaled the “unofficial” start of summer and just this week was the official start of hurricane season. This is always an opportune time to review local disaster/emergency operations plans. These should be reviewed at least annually, if not more frequently, with a critical eye. Below are some key questions to keep in mind when reviewing your plans.
- What has changed in your operations? Are the changes accounted for in your plan?
- Are new staff trained to respond in an emergency?
- Are all contact numbers in your communication plan current? Have you tested the plan?
- When was the last time you spoke to key contacts at critical services like utility providers, communication companies, fuel providers and local first responders?
- Have you tested any backup generators?
- Have you topped off your fuel tanks (if you have them)?
- When was the last time you actually exercised your plan?
While AABB, The Joint Commission, and the College of American Pathologist all require accredited organizations to have and test emergency/disaster plans, the most important reason to exercise these plans is to identify weaknesses in them and to ensure everyone is trained to respond during an emergency. The ABC member site has a page dedicated to assisting our members in preparing for and responding to emergencies and disasters, which contains links to a myriad of useful resources as well as the ABC/BCA Disaster Plan. As always, we stand ready with our partners, such as Blood Centers of America (BCA), to support our members with any planning or response as needed.
Ruth Sylvester, MS, MT(ASCP)SBB, ABC’s Director, Regulatory Services; firstname.lastname@example.org