VPC has been training groups for a “cascade of failures” for years. What happens if a snowstorm makes travel difficult and the power generator fails? What happens if a tornado hits and the hospital is damaged? What happens if there’s a fire and a flood, which are all common scenarios.
March 16 kicked off Severe Weather Preparedness Week. Despite the dire health situation surrounding COVID-19, the weather is changing in Indiana and that brings new danger.
For medical facilities and healthcare providers, the combination of a global pandemic and a tornado or flood seems less like an unrealistic mash-up and more like a real scenario. As supplies and resources face potential shortfalls, medical providers and health departments are likely better off helping people prepare for storms to keep them from ending up in local emergency rooms. This includes
- Showing people the safest place to shelter during a tornado
- Having weather radios
- Maintaining food supplies that can last at least a few days and don’t require power to cook or eat
Private enterprises and industrial operations who continue to operate during the COVID-19 spread may find themselves less likely to conduct tornado drills that bring people close together across a large plant. In those instances, you should conduct what we call “tabletop exercises”, where you bring smaller groups of people together in a conference room to talk about the actions they would take.
Despite the focus on storms, severe weather takes new forms compared to even the last thirty years. Heatwaves are longer, droughts are drier for longer, heavy rains more frequent in other parts, and can be more intense. Even milder winters can be severe by not killing pest insects, infections, and other diseases and their carriers as is typically expected.
The main point here is to maintain perspective through the pandemic and keep situational awareness at a heightened level. Keep your staff and clients aware of the dangers. Likewise, VPC offers hazmat awareness, incident command awareness and active shooter awareness via computer-based learning.
VPC is very active with the county health departments providing an emergency preparedness specialist to assist with pandemic responses as well as Point of Distribution Plans (PODs). Providing an emergency preparedness expert to assisting during this pandemic, VPC is supporting its mission to help strengthen and grow preparedness activities at the community level.