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disaster, evacuation, neonatal intensive care, neonatal transport



  1. Orlando, Susan DNS, APRN, NNP-BC
  2. Bernard, Marirose L. MN, APRN, CNA-BC
  3. Mathews, Pamela BSN, RNC


The massive evacuation of sick and at-risk infants from a large metropolitan area following a natural disaster provides many lessons for neonatal nurses. Planning and education are of utmost importance, and disaster education and training are essential for all nurses. Unit-specific disaster plans can serve as a guide for nurses but the real test occurs during and after the event. Nurses must learn to adapt neonatal care to the rapidly changing environment during a disaster. Supporting high-risk infants without the aid of technology requires a back-to-the-basics approach. The ability to maintain communication and facilitate transportation of neonates out of a disaster area is essential. Nurses must also consider their own well-being in the aftermath of a disaster. Planning for future disasters should include lessons learned from the past events. This article addresses nursing care issues and lessons learned from the events that unfolded in the New Orleans area neonatal units during and after Hurricane Katrina, and guidance in support of disaster education for neonatal nurses.