NYSNA Alert: Emergency Preparedness for Hurricane Joaquin

NYSNA is closely monitoring Hurricane Joaquin, the Category 4 hurricane now near the Bahamas. Coastal areas on the Atlantic, including New York, are under a Coastal Flood Watch and a High Wind Advisory. The predicted future path of the hurricane is still uncertain and could still make landfall on the East Coast.

Given these possible outcomes and the likelihood of heavy rains, at a minimum, affected states are currently putting in place emergency plans. New Jersey issued a state of emergency as of 6:00 a.m. October 1, 2015, and has asked southern NJ counties to begin emergency preparations without delay. New York State is watching the storm tracking carefully and has not declared a state of emergency as of this time.

Hospitals should be making the following preparations:

  • Activate the facility’s Emergency Operations Plan
  • Prepare for conditions that may include:
    • Increased patient influx
    • Limited access to facility
    • Power outages
    • Infrastructure damage
    • Lack of communication (phone outages, computer shutdowns, etc.)
  • Notify employees of staffing requirements
  • Make arrangements for meeting needs of staff
    • The Joint Commission requires the following:
      • “The Emergency Operations Plan describes how the hospital will manage staff support needs (for example, housing, transportation, and incident stress debriefing.)”
      • “The Emergency Operations Plan describes how the hospital will manage the family support needs of staff (for example, child care, elder care, pet care, communication.)”
  • Provide transportation to employees living in zones most likely to experience significant flooding and/or other storm effects

Please note that mandatory overtime regulations are waived during a state of emergency.

NYSNA members should make preparations if mandated to work, including for childcare, eldercare and pet care arrangements and alternate means of transportation, if necessary.

Be sure member homes are equipped with:

  • Adequate supplies of fresh water and non-perishable food
  • Adequate supplies of medications (at least one week’s worth)
  • Portable chargers for cell phones
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Cash
  • First aid supplies

Know your “zone” in case of evacuation orders

NYSNA has maintained ongoing communication with the NYC Municipal Labor Committee and the NYC Office of Emergency Management, as well as other county, city and state agencies.

A NYSNA representative will be included as part of the contingent at the NYC Emergency Command Center. Arrangements are being made for a NYSNA representative to be part of HHC hospital command centers, as well, and the union is advocating for this model to be replicated at all facilities. NYSNA is currently in contact with all hospitals to assess readiness plans and to make sure NYSNA is represented at facility emergency operations centers.

NYSNA is working with the Registered Nurse Response Network (RNRN), sponsored by National Nurses United, to coordinate assistance from volunteer nurses, if necessary. RNRN worked with NYSNA during Hurricane Sandy. Find out how to join the 750 RNRN volunteers in the New York area by going to the RNRN website at http://www.nationalnursesunited.org/site/entry/rnrn.

Large-scale emergencies, such as major storms, can be a difficult time for our members and the communities they serve. It is important for healthcare institutions to meet not just the physical needs of their staff and the public, but also mental health needs that may arise in these stressful situations. NYSNA urges all medical facilities to make mental health services available to employees and deploy mental health professionals into the community.

NYSNA will closely monitor conditions and forecasts to make sure our members and the communities we serve are properly prepared for this pending emergency.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your NYSNA representative immediately or call the NYSNA office at 212-785-0157 or email storm@nysna.org.

Resources for updates and emergency information:

NYC Office of Emergency Management

NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

NJ Office of Emergency Management

National Weather Service

NYC Evacuation Zones
NYC residence can find their designated evacuation zone by going to http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/em/html/know-your-zone/knowyourzone.html.

Extreme weather events such as Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy and potentially Joaquin are becoming increasingly “normal” as our planet warms due to fossil fuel emissions. Nurses have a critical role during these crises and it is always worthwhile to be well prepared.*

NYSNA salutes its members for meeting the public’s health needs today and every day – no matter what the circumstances.

*If you are interested in the issue of climate change, NYSNA has tickets to Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis' film This Changes Everything, opening in New York this week at the Independent Film Center at 323 6th Avenue (near West 3rd in Greenwich Village).

NYSNA and The Murphy Institute's Climate and Environment program is partnering to have Monday, October 5th, be "Union Members Night" (the showing starts at 7:50 p.m. but please come by 7:30pm). Other unions and workers organizations are invited.

If you cannot make the 5th, then note that the film is showing on other days from Oct. 2-8.

For more information on obtaining free tickets for the Oct. 5 showing, please contact Jeremy Markman at jeremy.markman@nysna.org.

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