New Orleans, LA (2005) – While searching for survivors and evacuees in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, my USAR (Urban Search & Rescue) team and I came upon a healthcare facility during our efforts. The staff members that remained were slouched over on the front steps, clearly downtrodden. The water had mostly receded where they were but they reported that when the levees broke, toxic, rushing water filled their facility. They vertically evacuated as many of the patients that they could to a higher floor but the math was not on their side … too many immobile patients, not enough staff and water rising too fast.
Many of their bed-ridden patients on the ground floor drowned. Those that they could save were flung somewhere upstairs inside their powerless facility, while their drained, ill-equipped and demoralized staff could do little but watch them slowly perish.
Evacuating a healthcare facility is serious business.
I don’t know what level of evacuation planning had or had not been done prior to my team discovering them.
And it hardly mattered at that moment.
Same for the facilities before and since then that have made the difficult choice to ‘risk a lot in order to save a lot‘ as a result of their attempts to evacuate their facility.
And while the thought of crafting an all-hazards evacuation plan for a facility full of immobile patients likely causes overwhelming stress … remember this:
… plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
Dwight D. Eisenhower – 34th US Pres. (1890-1969)
Still, many organizations struggle with the mere thought of facing the horrors described above. And as a result, they have difficulty gaining enough focused support in order to develop and exercise an adequate, emergency evacuation plan.
What these organizations need to get started and to validate what they may have already done is a blue print to know what plan functions are required, when and by whom.
Again, the function of planning is indispensable …
So to add value to your planning, I’ve collaborated with well-known emergency evacuation expert Lynn Moloney (and my supplier), to identify the most critical planning functions needed before an evacuation occurs.
And if you follow these steps and they end up in a plan? Even better.
To access your free report “7 Things You Must Do Before Evacuating a Your Facility“, please enter your name and email below and ‘ll send it the report right over.