Hi, I'm Karen Innocent, Director of Continuing Education and Conferences for Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. I'm very delighted to have this privilege and opportunity to share insights on continuing education and other issues related to nursing professional development with you through this blog.
  The topic for today is education and training on disaster preparedness. By now you have encountered more than a week of news reports about the earthquake in Haiti. This strikes close to home for my family. My husband grew up in Haiti, and has friends and family still living there. While most of the family has made contact, the communication problems has left the well-being of others unknown. Like many other compassionate observers, we wait anxiously for good news and are doing what we can to send help.
  As a nurse, the most troubling part about witnessing the aftermath of this disaster is seeing the uncoordinated rescue efforts and difficulties that had occurred with providing medical services and supplies to survivors. It is a shame that many people may die because of lack of access to basics such as antibiotics or clean drinking water. This underscores the importance of government and social agencies having a plan and trained professionals ready to respond to emergencies.
  Not many of us were aware of the possibility of an earthquake in Haiti, particularly because the Caribbean Islands are more concerned with the threat of hurricanes. Just as this unexpected tragedy occurred, there is a possibility that natural disasters or accidents of large proportions could occur anywhere. Nurses may be called upon to assist in these emergencies. While nurses are highly educated and have specialized skills, we all might want to brush up on emergency response because we never know when a disaster might hit our home towns.
   We'd like to know what you are doing in your community to prepare for disasters, and how your employer is training nurses on the leadership, organizational, and clinical skills needed to respond to emergencies.

Resources
   If you do not practice in emergency, trauma, or public health, it's likely that you could use a review. So I've collected a group of links to websites with reading materials on emergency preparedness that are designed for nurses, health professionals, and the general public.

Emergency Preparedness for Home Healthcare Nurses, Home Healthcare Nurse, January 2006: http://www.nursingcenter.com/library/JournalArticle.asp?Article_ID=621933

Essential links: Emergency Preparedness, Home Healthcare Nurse, January 2006: http://www.nursingcenter.com/library/JournalArticle.asp?Article_ID=621942

Ready. gov: http://www.ready.gov/

National Library of Medicine, Disaster Preparation and Recovery: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/disasterpreparationandrecovery.html

How Can I Help?

For those who want to volunteer, you may be interested in contacting the following organizations that are sending healthcare professionals to support the rescue and recovery efforts in Haiti.

Center for International Disaster Information: http://www.cidi.org/

United States Government: http://www.usaid.gov/locations/latin_america_caribbean/country/haiti/eq/dstechas.html

The American Red Cross: http://www.westred.org/Volunteer-Disaster.htm