Improving disaster response preparedness

Profile of an outstanding post-master's DNP project

Alisha Betka

Clinical Issue/Practice Problem: Disasters happen in all communities and negatively impact the health and safety of populations. Emergency preparedness is necessary to anticipate and plan for disasters. Rural health organizations face greater challenges when implementing emergency preparedness policies and need unique resources to ensure the health of their communities. The aim of this project was to increase participants’ confidence and competence in managing disasters in rural settings by 10% after an interprofessional disaster exercise.

Summary of Supporting Literature: Current evidence supports testing emergency operational plans and individual knowledge through recurring exercises to improve disaster preparedness and to promote positive outcomes. Disaster exercises provide opportunities for rural health organizations to identify and correct gaps in individual knowledge and organizational plans.

Project Implementation: The Knowledge-to-Action framework guided the project. An agricultural disaster scenario was developed and validated. TeamSTEPPS tools facilitated testing the scenario through a functional, table-top simulation with an interprofessional group of 40 graduate students from four health disciplines.

Outcomes: Percent change in reported self-confidence and competence in disaster and interprofessional collaboration were evaluated using pre- and post-simulation surveys. Paired t-test analysis was conducted. Students reported a 30% increase in self-confidence, 38% increase in disaster competence, and 19% increase in interprofessional collaboration competence after the simulation.

Clinical Implications for Practice: Emergency management coordinators within rural health organizations can use the scenario to meet emergency preparedness regulations, test their ability to manage disasters, and improve disaster response preparation in rural settings.