I have shoveled the first snowfall of the year. Luckily, I finished cleaning up the last of the leaves and exchanged the rake for the snow shovel just as the first flakes of snow started to fall. It came on the heels of the horrific fires in Gatlinburg and Oakland that caused so much death and destruction. I tend to put out disaster preparedness reminders once or twice a year, unfortunately, I get reminded after such tragedies occur. So here it is for Fall 2016.
Winter challenges aren’t quite as destructive as tornados or hurricanes, but blizzards and ice storms prevent donors from reaching the blood drives. Coupled with the holidays and influenza season, I think winter can be a more challenging time of the year for donor collections. Let’s hope this year will be different and we can offset the lows our inventories tend to dip to. Urge your staff and donors to get their flu shot. December 6-10, 2016 was National Influenza Vaccination Week in case you missed it. And while you’re at it, put a bottle of hand sanitizer at every corner, it can’t hurt. Other helpful information can be found on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Winter Weather Checklist webpage.
Our hearts go out to the victims, their friends and families in Tennessee and California as well as to our members supporting them. Fire is an ever present risk, particularly for those that live and work in areas prone to wild fires. CDC has some very helpful information on their webs about wildfires, for before, during and after. Readiness begins before a disaster strikes and while we can’t always prevent every crisis, preparation is key to survival.
As always, I also urge each and every center to review and exercise your disaster plans periodically throughout the year. Remember your mobile operations in those plans. Do your mobile operations checklist include evacuation routes from buildings and locations? Perhaps they should. Encourage your staff to have a plan at home. They should review and practice it as well. Their kids may think they are dorks until the day they actually need it. Plans on a shelf are dust collectors. It is the act of planning and exercising those plans that prepares you to respond when a disaster strikes. Have a safe and joyous holiday season.
Ruth Sylvester; Director, Regulatory Servicces