Role of the PHN in Disasters (Nursing)

by Heide Cygan, DNP, RN

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    00:00 This presentation is all about the role of the public health nurse during disasters.

    00:06 Public health nurses like George here can be part of disasters before, during and after they occur.

    00:14 Public health nurses are trusted members of the community who have all the expertise necessary to prepare communities for disasters, both natural and man-made.

    00:25 Public health nurses can mitigate the impact of disasters through preparedness and action.

    00:32 Let's use the epidemiological triad to explain how disasters can impact a community.

    00:38 Then, we'll consider how the public health nurse can break the links of the triangle, limiting the impact of disasters on a community.

    00:45 Now, as a reminder, there are three parts to this model, the host, the agent and the environment.

    00:52 So let's start with the host.

    00:55 In relation to disaster, the host is the human who experiences the disaster.

    01:00 Now there are several factors that contribute to the impact that a disaster has on a host.

    01:05 Some of these factors include age, general health status, mobility, psychological factors, as well as the social determinants of health.

    01:15 For instance, older adults living in a senior living apartment may not be able to evacuate independently in response to a tornado warning due to mobility challenges.

    01:25 Similarly, infants and young children are completely dependent on their caregivers to evacuate in the instance of a fire.

    01:32 Next, let's move on to the agent.

    01:35 The agent is what causes the disaster.

    01:38 For example, high winds of a hurricane or the lava of an erupting volcano.

    01:42 These are both agents.

    01:44 Other examples are radiation or industrial chemicals.

    01:48 Often, everyday items that typically don't pose a threat can also be physical agents that cause a disaster.

    01:56 An example of this was in 2003, when in Chicago, there was a balcony that collapsed during a party.

    02:01 As a result, 13 people lost their lives and over 50 were injured.

    02:05 This faulty balcony is an unfortunate example of a physical agent.

    02:10 And finally, we have the environment.

    02:12 Environmental factors are those that could potentially contribute to or mitigate the destruction of a disaster.

    02:19 Some environmental factors are a community's level of preparedness, or say the presence of flood prone rivers or lakes, or maybe even the proximity to fault lines.

    02:30 Let's walk through an example.

    02:32 Imagine you're a public health nurse who's working in a senior center when a large scale earthquake hits.

    02:37 What I'm going to ask you to do is take a moment to pause the video and write down who is the host? What is the agent? And what are some environmental factors that you might consider? Great, let's compare what you've written down with what we have right here.

    02:59 The host in the scenario are the people who are living in that senior center.

    03:03 They're the ones who have been impacted by the disaster.

    03:06 The agent, of course, is the earthquake.

    03:09 And the environment? Well, some of the things that you would consider are: the construction of the buildings.

    03:14 Are there warning systems in place? How well is the community prepared? So let's focus on each area and brainstorm some ways that the public health nurse could decrease the impact of the earthquake on the community.

    03:28 Before we start, though, do you remember what we need to do to the triangle in order to prevent harm to the host? We simply need to break the connection between two of the sides.

    03:38 So how could we do that here? Let's start with the host, what are host factors that we should consider? Let's focus on mobility.

    03:46 As a public health nurse, what can you do to prepare these older adults for what to do in the case of an earthquake? One thing you could do would be to lead earthquake drills that take into consideration mobility of the population.

    04:00 Let's move on to the agent.

    04:01 Now, there's very little that we can do here to impact the agent.

    04:04 So let's go down-down to the environment.

    04:07 What could you do as a public health nurse that takes into consideration the environment that can mitigate the impact of this disaster? One thing you could do would be to advocate for proper building construction that has specific earthquake protections.

    04:22 By applying the epidemiological triad to a disaster, we can help prepare populations in the face of a disaster.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Role of the PHN in Disasters (Nursing) by Heide Cygan, DNP, RN is from the course Emergency Preparedness (Nursing).

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. The host
    2. The agent
    3. The environment
    4. The community
    1. Advocate for the installation of watertight doors for the community center.
    2. Teach community center staff about what to do in case of a flood.
    3. Conduct flood-preparedness drills.
    4. Ask community center staff to monitor weather conditions daily.

    Author of lecture Role of the PHN in Disasters (Nursing)

     Heide Cygan, DNP, RN

    Heide Cygan, DNP, RN

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