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Ref: Missouri senior center works to increase disaster preparedness

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Emergency Preparedness Resources Available to Missouri's Adult Care Facilities



The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services released two new tools to help long-term care facilities plan for and respond to emergency situations. The department is sending the Disaster Preparedness Planning Template for Adult Care Facilities and The ABC's of Emergency Preparedness: Ready in 3 for Adult Care Facilities video to all long-term care facilities in Missouri. The template and video also support collaboration among facilities, local emergency response planners, health care systems, and others involved in emergency planning and response efforts.

"It might be several days before vital services are restored during emergency events like the power outages Missouri experienced in January and last summer," said Jane Drummond, director of the department. "These new resources provide critical information about how Missouri's adult care facilities can plan and prepare for all types of emergencies. Being prepared to act quickly and having plans and supplies in place can eliminate some of the stress in an emergency situation," Drummond added.

The tools for Missouri's adult care facilities are part of the department's Ready in 3 emergency preparedness program. The Ready in 3 program reminds Missourians of what they can do at home, school, and work to prepare for emergencies. Ready in 3 provides three simple steps to prepare for any emergency situation:

Create a plan.
Prepare an emergency kit.
Listen for information.
"With the release of these new resources, Missouri's local planning and response efforts are strengthened for long-term care facilities and adult day care centers preparing for emergency events," added Drummond. "Not only will adult care facilities benefit, but state and community response planners and emergency responders will be better able to address this population's special needs in all types of disasters."

The Ready in 3 video provides detailed information on the steps facilities can take to ensure they are prepared for emergencies of all kinds. The video addresses emotional and mental health needs during emergencies, including the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression that can result from emergencies. In addition to advice on integrating the information into emergency response plans, the resources also emphasize that response plans can reduce harm and save lives.

"Adult care facilities already have the knowledge to identify and manage the physical and psychological symptoms this group may experience as a result of illness and trauma," said Drummond. "These resources give them the necessary tools to extend that expertise to the management of widespread or catastrophic events."

Troy Culbertson, Administrator of Country Aire Retirement Estates in Lewistown, Missouri, knows first hand how important it is to have an emergency plan and to practice that plan with residents and staff. On February 4, 2007, portions of Lewistown were evacuated due to a propane leak. In addition to their 50 residents, the Country Aire Retirement Estates took in approximately a dozen individuals with special needs from throughout the community.

Two days later, Mr. Culbertson was involved in a decision to evacuate his facility so that local responders could attempt to remove propane from the leaking tanks. Mr. Culbertson and his medical director, Dr. Gene Childress, met with their staff immediately to outline the steps they would take to safely evacuate residents and others in their care. Mr. Culbertson put a team together on the telephone to notify family members that their loved ones were being transported to a safer location. "We keep a card file on every resident, so that if disaster strikes we can contact the resident’s family quickly and in an organized way," said Culbertson. Residents were transported to other facilities not exposed to the event with their medical charts, medications, identification bracelets, 2-3 days worth of clothing and their medication administration record. "Our staff was stationed at loading doors where residents were being transported to other facilities to confirm the items with the residents were in fact their emergency supply items that would be needed at the new facility," said Culbertson.

Once these individuals were transported to the new facilities, staff of the Country Aire Retirement Estates cared for the residents at the new locations in order to give the residents a sense of continuity and routine. "Our staff, local emergency responders, community volunteers, and health department employees were a tremendous help in keeping the residents calm. Without this teamwork and support and practicing our disaster plans and informing staff, we would not have evacuated in such an orderly fashion without injury or incident," added Culbertson.

Missouri adult care facilities are receiving a package of Ready in 3 resources that will help them prepare their facility's emergency plan, inform their staff, and educate the residents and their families about planning for emergencies. The package includes the 20-minute video, available on VHS or DVD, The ABCs of Emergency Preparedness: Ready in 3 for Adult Care Facilities; theDisaster Preparedness Planning Template for Adult Care Facilitieshardcopy and on CD in PDF and Word formats; a Family Safety Guide that details the steps that can taken to prepare for emergencies of all kinds; a Family Plan that outlines the information that should be part of an emergency plan; and a Community Guide for Preparing for Pandemic Flu.

The resources are free and many are available in multiple languages. Missouri adult care facilities are urged to order additional materials and tools on-line at www.dhss.mo.gov/Ready_in_3/ or by calling the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services at 573-526-4768.

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