What Senior Services Can Do in Disasters
What Senior Services can do in disasters – You can prepare an emergency plan for your own agency. This is critical now for all care managers, home care agencies, and any senior service because of global warming. With the Maui Fire, CSA, or any senior agency watching another global climate change disaster, happening right in Maui. Senior service providers need to know how to prepare elders and their agencies for fires. Many of those suspected dead in Lahaina are thought to be older people who could not escape quickly enough as it was a fire that was swept by Hurricane Dora’s 80-mile-an-hour winds spread the fire so fast that many many just could not escape and now suspected snapped power lines . Lionel Montalvo, retired fire chief in Lahaina, said that many dead elderly would be found Fema puts out a handout that can be shared with elders about how to prepare for fires with their level of disability.
In An Emergency, I Panicked
What Senior Services can do in disasters was vividly revealed to me. I live in Santa Cruz County, Ca. , where the disaster of a 6.9 earthquake, in 1989 happened and future earthquakes stalk us. But we had a double disaster in Aug 2021. Covid had started and then one of the 30 fires begun by lightning strikes all over California set the Santa Cruz mountains, with ancient 3000-year-old redwoods, ablaze. The fires caused 70,000 evacuations, and flames destroyed 1,490 structures, as the firefighters did not have enough fire personnel to fight the fire. There were so many fires statewide that all firefighters in the state were not enough to fight the blazes. In addition to the horror, the fast-spreading fire, our three assigned planes to drop water on the inferno, could not fly as smoke and fog prevented it. They went to other California fires.
I Had No Grab and GO, Binder
When all this was announced by emergency alerts we were told to prepare to evacuate too. In spite of just teaching how to put together a go binder for COVID- I had no go binder myself. I had no list of what I would take in an emergency from a 5 bedroom house with multiple family heirlooms, original art by children, grandchildren, and now famous friends, I had never scanned the multiple photographs of our family in frames to GOOGLE PHOTOS all over the house nor those critical important documents like our trust, birth certificates, passports, insurance info in a filing to add a go binder. I never made a GO Binder. I did that later now when the fire is 30% contained when it was no help in the emergency, but I do now when worldwide global emergencies, world wide spread like the black death.
What to put in Go-Binder
What Senior Services can do in disasters is help clients create a grab-and-go binder with all the emergency contacts, documents like advanced directives, DNR power of attorney, and family contacts, the family cannot physically go into the hospital or evacuate but this Go binder can take your place. With important information about your family member when they are admitted without you by their side. Your go-binder should contain your family members’ most important information and documents. This will include.
- Medical information
- Emergency Contact List
- Advanced Directives
- Critical medical, insurance, social security, Trust/will docs
- You can also order them pre-prepared
Prepare for Double Disasters Now
In emergency situations, people sometimes do not think rationally as I did in the Santa Cruz mountain fire. We never know how we are going to react in an emergency until it actually happens. In order to prepare for any situation, hurricanes & COVID, Fires creating a grab-and-go binder should be an important part of your shelter-in-place plan for aging friends or relatives.
If Covid returns with new variants and many anti-vaxers who refuse immunizations, older people sheltering in place, can still contract COVID and be rushed to the hospital in an emergency. But on top of COVID other emergencies like storms, wildfires, and floods occur on the top of the pandemic. Think of this summer and fall when the hurricane season is predicted to be catastrophic due to climate change, the warming of the Oceans, and in the last week Hurricane Dora creating, along with drought the brutal disaster on going in Maui, where 1000 people are still missing and the dead over 100.
EMERGENCY PLAN FOR EVERY DISASTER
Emergency Plan Needed for all Senior Service Agencies to Serve Clients in the Misdst of Disasters and Exploding Global Climate Change
What Senior Services must do in disasters, especially exploding climate change events, is to create an emergency plan for all emergencies for all staff, caregivers, and aging clients in your senior agencies or you as a practitioner. With hurricane Dora causing the Maui fire and the west once again facing massive wildfires, tornados already wreaking devastation this season and the polar vortex perhaps coming again next year-do you have emergency procedures?
The emergency plan to prepare for emergencies should contain specific policies and procedures, like who will care for your clients when the agency members have to evacuate, and a plan that is written out and made explicitly. It should include directions that the owner or manager would like followed in emergency circumstances. The emergency plan should be signed and dated by both the owner and the manager, reviewed periodically, and updated as policies and procedures or circumstances change. An emergency plan is your first line of defense when an emergency or disaster occurs.
Informal agency emergency procedures work in a start-up care management business but what if the solo practitioner is ill and out?
If illness, accident, or some other unforeseen event overtakes an owner or manager, like, no emergency procedures can be suicide in an emergency, not to mention liability to your elderly clients.
You could be like GCM Jim Boyd who lost his business in the Paradise Fire that knocked him out.
PARADISE FIRE DEVASTATION OF A GERIATRIC CARE MANAGEMENT PRACTICE
GCM Jim Boyd of Paradise, California lost everything in the catastrophic fire in the town of Paradise, where he lived and practiced. He was trying to evacuate aging clients in Paradise, located in the midst of the Sierra forest when the huge forest fire immolated the entire town. Another care manager in the Sierras took over for him as an Aging Life Care partner. Although a “Go Fund Me” started by the Aging Life Care Association raised almost $10,000 for Jim, he did not have enough to rebuild his Paradise home where he had his home-based GCM business. Then he and 90% of the residents of Paradise never returned.
Emergency Plan-Every geriatric care professional needs a formal, written backup plan that dictates action, should a disaster or emergency arise.
It‘s necessary to assess your company’s risk of temporary or permanent service disruption you will prepare for emergencies with an agency emergency plan
if a disaster or emergency is experienced. This may seem an overwhelming task at first, but when you break it down into pieces, it becomes workable.
One part of your emergency plan should be explaining an emergency plan and checking the home for safety at intake. Then at each monitoring visit have an emergency plan checklist to make sure safety devices work- and are still in the house –are their batteries that still work, flashlights fire alarms, if an emergency exit plan is still posted, and family or paid caregivers still trained on what to do in an emergency.
Learn how to prepare for emergencies and how you can prepare yourself, your clients, and your staff for disasters and absences of key personnel.
With global warming’s effects causing fires like the Maui Fire -floods, larger hurricanes, and the specter of more catastrophic weather events, you need to prepare for emergencies. Get the new Handbook of Geriatric Care Management 4th edition now at my website – out in Kindle or hardback with an excellent chapter on how to prepare your agency for disasters, plus forms to use, by former GCM President Liz Barlow.