No, Calling 9-1-1 is Not a Plan

9-1-1 call centers are completely overwhelmed with requests for assistance (…)
As first-hand accounts of evacuations and rescues come from Houston, it’s hard to look beyond the pain and suffering the city is experiencing. With another foot or two of rain predicted over the next two days in the area, the lines between preparedness and response become even more blurred. But with what we know, what can we do in the future?

What we know

Unfortunately, we know precious little except that every effort possible is being made to rescue as many people as possible. Levies have been opened to prevent breaking, 9-1-1 call centers are completely overwhelmed with requests for assistance, people are posting on Twitter in hopes that someone can help them. The City of Houston has remained resilient, banding together and understanding the Mayor’s decision not to order an evacuation before the storm.

But here’s what we do know:

  • Texas counties continue to be added to the state’s declaration disaster.
  • Hospitals and healthcare facilities are undergoing evacuations – but they are struggling with providing a way to physically move people and personnel.
  • Typical emergency management resources are beyond stretched.
  • Potable water is in high demand, especially in health care facilities and shelters.
  • Power outages are happening, with no real end in sight.
  • As usual, the sick, elderly, and young are taking the brunt of this storm.
  • It’s not over.


What can we do? 

Now is the time to start asking questions where you work. This could have happened to your facility!
How does a nursing home get to be waist-high in water before its patients are evacuated? What happens when a Level I Trauma Center decides to evacuate in the middle of a storm? How do Home Health and Hospice agencies notify emergency managers about patients trapped in their homes?
The question easily moves from “What can we do?” to “What should have been done?” followed quickly by the “What should we do for the future?”
Let’s be clear here. The answer to healthcare preparedness should never be Call 9-1-1. Sure that may be Plan A, on a good day, for one patient, but as we have seen throughout the past few days, Plan A isn’t working. Ensure you have a feasible plan, and test them. Because the 9-1-1 center may flood, or lose power, just like everywhere else.
There is a standard in place for health care facilities to be compliant, with a deadline of November 15. There are many ways in which the Crisis Response & Prevention Team can you with your preparedness. It starts today.

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