Prepare for Hurricane Season
Written by Editor   
Tuesday, June 05, 2018 12:00 AM

The Texas Chiropractic Association (TCA) works to enhance public access and education to chiropractic practice. In the wake of last year’s Hurricane Harvey the TCA, in conjunction with Parker University and Texas Chiropractic College (TCC), created the initiative Chiropractors Helping In Relief Operations (C.H.I.R.O), dedicated to helping chiropractic doctors in their time of need. The ultimate goal of C.H.I.R.O. is to help doctors effected by a disaster to get back to caring for patients.

Initially started as a response to Harvey as a way to offer assistance to Texas Doctors of Chiropractic whose practices were affected by Hurricane Harvey, the C.H.I.R.O. continues as a way to support those who may be affected by catastrophic events in the future. The 2018 hurricane season began June 1 and the TCA takes this opportunity to attention to hurricane preparedness.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted a “near to above normal” level of hurricane frequency. The most important thing you can do as hurricane season approaches is to have a plan, and to get yourself, your family and your home prepared.  

Six basics everyone will need to face the aftermath of a hurricane include: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and special items. Keep the items you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to carry container.  There are several hurricane safety checklists available.  The National Hurricane Survival Initiative checklist  the Ready.gov and Texasprepares.org websites have useful information on how to prepare and what to do in time frames leading up to hurricane landfall.  The first, and most important step, however is to familiarize yourself with these or other hurricane preparation sites and make a plan so that you will know what you need to do to ensure your safety.  C.H.I.R.O. will be available to assist chiropractors get back to treating patients.  Remember to make C.H.I.R.O. a part of your preparations to consider supporting C.H.I.R.O. 

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), in 2016, passed an emergency-preparedness rule requiring 17 types of healthcare providers to set new policies that result in better coordination with emergency personnel and frequent tests and adaptations of emergency plans. These include clinics, rehabilitation agencies and public health agencies that provide outpatient physical therapyand speech-language pathology services. Chiropractic clinics would do well to be included in advance preparation for an emergency. 

There are four core elements of emergency preparedness according to the CMS.  1) an annual risk assessment and emergency planning that includes likely hazards, care-related emergencies, power and equipment failures, communication interruptions, loss of use of facilities and supplies; 2) develop a communication plan that complies with federal and state laws, for contacting necessary persons and patients, and with emergency management agencies and government officials; 3) develop policies and procedures that complies with federal and state laws; and 4) develop training and testing that complies with federal and state laws. Maintain and update all plans annually.

With every new hurricane season, medical providers say they learned from years past and have plans in place, yet a recent poll from the American College of Emergency Physicians suggests otherwise.  Ninety-three percent of emergency physicians surveyed said their emergency departments are not fully prepared for surge capacity during a disaster. About half said they would be somewhat prepared; about a quarter indicated they wouldn’t be completely ready; and 17% said they were completely unprepared. Only 13% said their hospital has thoroughly re-evaluated preparedness plans; 44% said that they had done so to some extent; 22% said they had not really re-evaluated plans and 8% said they had not done it at all.  

Don’t wait.  Don’t be late.  Make your plans, review them regularly, prepare and stay safe this hurricane season.