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If a REALLY bad emergency happen RIGHT NOW what would your staff DO?

Preparedness and Response plans to focus on communities of preparedness

When it comes to emergency plans at work it is important for individuals to know specific threats and hazards in their area, emergency signals, evacuation routes, and locations of shelters in their community. We will encourage people to maintain an emergency preparedness kit at work and discuss disaster plans with their co-workers.

National Preparedness Month is a time to prepare yourself and those in your care for emergencies and disasters, both large scale and smaller local events. We know that emergencies can happen unexpectedly in communities just like yours, to people like you. We’ve seen tornado outbreaks, river floods and flash floods, historic earthquakes, tsunamis, and even water main breaks and power outages that impact communities for days at a time.

As commendable as they may be in their profession of assisting those in need, police, fire and rescue may not always be able to reach you quickly in an emergency or disaster. The most important step you can take in helping your local responders is being able to take care of yourself and those in your care for at least a short period of time following an incident; the more people who are prepared, the quicker the community will recover.

You are not helpless in the face of an emergency. With just a few simple steps, you can Be a Force of Nature by knowing your risk, taking action and being an example in your community.

Regardless of what goes wrong


Even simple things help in an emergency like

Just a few creature comforts can go a long way to helping us stay in our comfort zone, helping us be calm, and helping us be more effective in making the decisions we need to make.

It is not JUST listening to the radio at work

Be Informed

Being prepared means staying informed. Check all types of media – Web sites, newspapers, radio, TV, mobile and land phones – for global, national and local information. During an emergency, your local Emergency Management or Emergency Services office will give you information on such things as open shelters and evacuation orders.

Take a simple emergency event at work like a chemical spill that went terribly bad does your staff know things like

Decontamination Area

Previously decontaminated patients and patients exposed only to gas or vapor who have no evidence of skin or eye irritation may be transferred immediately to the Critical Care Area. Other victims will require decontamination as described below

ABC Reminders

Evaluate and support airway, breathing, and circulation. Intubate the trachea in cases of respiratory compromise. If the patient’s condition precludes intubation, surgically create an airway.

Treat patients who have bronchospasm with aerosolized bronchodilators; use these and all catecholamines with caution because of the possible enhanced risk of cardiac dysrhythmias.

Patients who are comatose, hypotensive, or have seizures or ventricular dysrhythmias should be treated in the conventional manner.

Basic Decontamination

Patients who are able and cooperative may assist with their own decontamination. Remove and double-bag contaminated clothing and personal belongings.

Flush exposed or irritated skin and hair with plain water for 3 to 5 minutes. For oily or otherwise adherent chemicals, use mild soap on the skin and hair. Rinse thoroughly with water.

Flush exposed or irritated eyes with plain water or saline for at least 5 minutes. Remove contact lenses if present and easily removable without additional trauma to the eye. If a corrosive material is suspected or if pain or injury is evident, continue irrigation while transferring the patient to the Critical Care Area.

In cases of ingestion, do not induce emesis. Administer 4 to 8 ounces of water to dilute stomach contents if the patient is conscious and able to swallow. Immediately transfer the patient to the Critical Care Area.

Critical Care Area

Be certain that appropriate decontamination has been carried out. (See Decontamination Area, above.)

ABC Reminders

Evaluate and support airway, breathing, and circulation as in ABC Reminders, page 7. Establish intravenous access in seriously ill patients. Continuously monitor cardiac rhythm.

Patients who are comatose, hypotensive, or have seizures or ventricular dysrhythmias should be treated in the conventional manner.

Inhalation Exposure

Administer supplemental oxygen by mask to patients who have respiratory complaints. Treat patients who have bronchospasm with aerosolized bronchodilators; use these and all catecholamines with caution because of the potential or possible enhanced risk of cardiac dysrhythmias.

Skin Exposure

If concentrated chlorine gas or chlorine-generating solutions contact the skin, chemical burns may occur; treat as thermal burns. If the liquefied compressed gas is released and contacts the skin, frostbite may result. If a victim has frostbite, treat by rewarming affected areas in a water bath at a temperature of 102 to 108°F (40 to 42°C) for 20 to 30 minutes and continue until a flush has returned to the affected area.

Because of their larger surface area:body weight ratio children are more vulnerable to toxicants absorbed through the skin.

Skin Exposure

If chemical burns are present, treat as thermal burns.

Eye Exposure

Ensure that adequate eye irrigation has been completed. Test visual acuity. Examine the eyes for corneal damage using a magnifying device or a slit lamp and fluorescein stain. For small corneal defects, use ophthalmic ointment or drops, analgesic medication, and an eye patch. Immediately consult an ophthalmologist for patients who have severe corneal injuries.

Ingestion Exposure

Do not induce emesis. If the patient is alert and charcoal has not been given previously, administer a slurry of activated charcoal. If a corrosive material is suspected, administer 4 to 8 ounces of water do not give a slurry of activated charcoal. Consider endoscopy to evaluate the extent of gastrointestinal-tract injury. If a large dose has been ingested and the patient’s condition is evaluated within 30 minutes after ingestion, consider gastric lavage.

Antidotes and Other Treatments

Treatment consists of supportive measures.

Laboratory Tests

Routine laboratory studies for all exposed patients include CBC, glucose, and electrolyte determinations. Additional studies for patients exposed to an unidentified chemical include ECG monitoring, renal-function tests, and liver-function tests. Chest radiography and pulse oximetry (or ABG measurements) are recommended for severe inhalation exposure.

Disposition and Follow-up

Consider hospitalizing patients who have suspected serious exposures and persistent or progressive symptoms

Delayed Effects

When the chemical has not been identified, the patient should be observed for an extended period or admitted to the hospital.

Patient Release

Asymptomatic patients who have minimal exposure, normal initial examinations, and no signs of toxicity after 6 to 8 hours of observation may be discharged with instructions to seek medical care promptly if symptoms develop.


Provide the patient with follow-up instructions to return to the emergency department or a private physician to reevaluate initial findings. Patients who have corneal injuries should be reexamined within 24 hours.


If a work-related incident has occurred, you may be legally required to file a report; contact your state or local health department. Other persons may still be at risk in the setting where this incident occurred. If the incident occurred in the workplace, discussing it with company personnel may prevent future incidents. If a public health risk exists, notify your state or local health department or other responsible public agency. When appropriate, inform patients that they may request an evaluation of their workplace from OSHA/OH&S  or NIOSH.

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