Are YOU prepared for the next disaster?

What will be the next disaster for your local hospital, funeral home, and First Responders? Are these same entities prepared for the next Ebola case? The next Katrina? The next “9-11” disaster? The next Columbine? The next Sandy Hook tragedy? 

Disasters result in deaths.  Are the funeral directors in your state prepared? 

First responders from the 39th Medical Group carry a patient onto an ambulance during a local readiness exercise Aug. 28, 2014, Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. First responders from the 39th Air Base Wing attend readiness training which keeps skills sharp for real world emergencies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Nicole Sikorski/Released)

First responders from the 39th Medical Group carry a patient onto an ambulance during a local readiness exercise Aug. 28, 2014, Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. First responders from the 39th Air Base Wing attend readiness training which keeps skills sharp for real world emergencies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Nicole Sikorski/Released)

All too often, local and state emergency preparedness planners neglect to include funeral directors and embalmers on their teams. What about your community? Do funeral directors have a working relationship with the First Responders in your area? Do local funeral directors attend city, county and state preparedness meetings? Does your firm have a disaster preparednessplan?

Without a doubt, Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters as well as the Ebola epidemic have put emergency preparedness on the public radar, but time and funding make it a low priority. In hospitals, for example, the primary focus is caring for today's emergency patients. There is little time to devote to developing a better disaster plan, communicating with the rest of the community or conducting the necessary in-house training.

Post Hurricane Katrina photo. Fallen, elevated water tower and smashed building in Buras, Louisiana, where landfall occurred at 6:10 a.m. CDT on August 29, 2005. US EPA photo from "http://www.epa.gov/katrina/images/Slide9.jpg" by the United States.

Post Hurricane Katrina photo. Fallen, elevated water tower and smashed building in Buras, Louisiana, where landfall occurred at 6:10 a.m. CDT on August 29, 2005. US EPA photo from "http://www.epa.gov/katrina/images/Slide9.jpg" by the United States.

A federal rule is pending to support upgrading the state of emergency preparedness in healthcare facilities. Support any local, state, or federal legislation to make it happen! 

But what can you, as a funeral director, accomplish as part of a preparedness effort? To find out, read the questions below:

1. Discuss the importance of preparedness and develop a plan with your staff. The next disaster may not be a hurricane, tornado or flood, but it could be an explosion, a bus or train wreck, a multi-vehicle highway accident or a pandemic infection. What role can your firm play when disaster strikes?

2. What is your refrigeration capacity? What is your area's (50 mi. radius) combined refrigeration capacity? What about morgue capacity? This information is important to know in a disaster. 

3. How many embalmers could respond to an emergency within a 50-mi. radius area? 

4. Do you know if a mobile morgue is available? If not, what's the nearest resource you can count on?

5. How many body bags do you store at your firm? What's the total number of body bags available within your community? How many are available within a 50-mi. radius? How many meet or exceed BioSafety Level 4, Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA), World Health Organization (WHO), and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) requirements for removal of victims of infectious disease?

6. Are First Responders prepared for disaster? Do they have the latest state of the art equipment to perform their jobs? Do they have adequate community support? Do they cooperate and have input with local and state disaster teams? Is there a plan for your firm to collaborate with First Responders? Support your local First Responders!

 7. Is there a plan for responding to High Consequence Infectious Disease (HCID) outbreak in your area -- whether it's Ebola, influenza, polio or Zika. Are there ongoing discussions about how your community, city or state would respond? Are you part of that conversation?  

8. Do you ignore the possibility a Sandy Hook situation taking place in your schools? Has your staff been trained to handle an active shooter situation? Is this training available to school staff, First Responders, hospitals and other front-line emergency entities?

9. Are you too busy being busy to be involved in taking disaster training or being a part of a disaster team? What is the cost of one life? 

10. Money may be the deciding factor, so how creative can you be in finding preparedness funding for your community?  Can you and/or your community afford what it takes, financially and personally, to save one life? If not you, who can answer this question when you ask it?

Emergency preparedness cannot be ignored.  We cannot afford to cut corners and “make do” when it comes to emergency preparedness. 

Preparedness training is critical to our society. Encourage neighbors and young people to participate in some form of emergency preparedness, whether it's keeping an emergency supply of food and water on hand, obtaining auxiliary power generators or developing an emergency exit strategy in case of fire or explosion. 

Do you have your own family emergency preparedness plan? It could be the difference in life or death!

"Over the years, Americans in particular have been all too willing to squander their hard-earned independence and freedom for the illusion of feeling safe under someone else's authority. The concept of self-sufficiency has been undermined in value over a scant few generations. The vast majority of the population seems to look down their noses upon self-reliance as some quaint dusty relic, entertained only by the hyper-paranoid or those hopelessly incapable of fitting into mainstream society." 
                                ― Cody Lundin