Disaster management 101

Saturday, December 31, 2005

MIAMI LAKES, Fla. - The days after Hurricane Wilma found Raul Rodriguez topping off employee gas tanks and transfilling oxygen for competitors.
It's all in a disaster-day's work for Rodriguez, owner of All-Med Services in Miami Lakes, Fla.
"I think everybody's learned this year that you need to look at your preparedness program in detail, but you have to experience it to see what works and what doesn't," said Rodriguez.
This fall's record-breaking hurricane season reinforces the need for a disaster plan. A good plan includes handling patient communications and data; checking that patients have adequate equipment, supplies and evacuation plans; and having adequate fuel stores.
When a hurricane watch is announced, All-Med makes sure patients have back-up oxygen or adequate medication. The company has generators in all its offices and stocks up on food and water.
To take care of patients, companies must also take care of employees, said Raul Lopez, president of the Florida Association of Medical Equipment Services (FAMES).
"We allow our employees time to get home so they can take care of their own things," said Lopez, director of operations at Bayshore Dura Medical in Miami Lakes, Fla.
Jones County Medical, with a location in Katrina-devastated Hattiesburg, Tenn., weathers plenty of storms, and therefore, also has disaster management plans.
"There's always a hurricane coming our way," said Ruth Bicker, director of patient services.
All-Med was up and running within a day of the storm and able to help less-fortunate competitors by offering the use of its facilities.
Both Lopez and Rodriguez supplied employees with gasoline.
"If your employees can't get to the office, then your program becomes ineffective," said Rodriguez. "Plan for the worst and pray for the best."