NEA Presents...

What’s Your Emergency Action Plan?

In light of recent events including hurricanes, floods and wildfires, NEA wants to remind you of the importance of having a comprehensive Emergency Action Plan in place for your practice.

According to the Wisconsin Dental Association (WDA), “An Emergency Action Plan (EAP) can help prepare doctors and staff for handling office and community emergencies through information gathering and sharing. Preparing ahead of time for emergencies can reduce or even eliminate the negative outcomes affecting you, your patients, your staff and your community.”

We’ve all seen images showing the devastation that natural disasters can have on a population. From Texas, Montana, Oregon, and California, to, more recently, the Virgin Islands, Florida and South Carolina – residences and businesses across the country have borne the impact of stormy weather and fires. For those that have been directly impacted, our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Preparing for and recovering from any type of disaster can be chaotic; however, with a comprehensive EAP in place, your practice will have a well-defined process to follow and that can help bring order to the chaos.

The size and complexity of your practice should determine how detailed or complex your plan needs to be. Speaking with a Risk Assessment expert as you begin to design your plan will help ensure that your plan covers all of the bases. The goal of any plan should be to eliminate confusion before, during and after a crisis or emergency, and to help you steer a course back to normal operations.

The WDA advises, “An EAP is a guideline for handling unplanned events that could disrupt your normal business operations. These events will vary for each individual office based on your mode of operation, geographic location and proximity to potential external threats. Emergencies could be a weather-related event or a man-made (intentional or unintentional) event. The EAP may be written by one individual or by an EAP team depending on the dental office’s needs. Hopefully, your EAP will never be needed. However, should something unforeseen happen, preplanning and employee training will lessen stress and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the response.”

Additionally, “An EAP also clarifies specific directions should your dental office wish to voluntarily assist in providing care in the event of a public health emergency. Local emergencies would require that dental offices integrate plans with state, regional and local public health agencies to ensure that all volunteer support is coordinated. As trained health care providers, oral health professionals can play a special role in providing many valuable emergency services. Such actions help your community while also improving the image of the dental profession.” This certainly rings true for the University Of Texas Dental School as they provided emergency oral care services in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

We never think something can happen to us. It’s our nature, but everyone needs to be prepared. Act now.

RESOURCES:

WDA Sample Dental EAP
www.wda.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Emergency-Dental-Action-Plan.doc

CDC Sample EAP
https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2004-101/emrgact/files/emrgact.pdf

Detailed instructions on emergency preparedness and response
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Hurricane Preparedness Guide from the Florida Dental Association: http://www.wcdental.org/wcd_professionals/Hurricane_Guide_2016.pdf

Five Step Guide to Disaster Preparedness and Recovery from the Florida Dental Association

Additional disaster preparedness resources can be found on the ADA Web site.