State-by-State Involvement in Disaster Planning

The AARC provided sample letters and suggested contacts to our state societies. Many of these activities are paying dividends around the country.

Alabama: ASRC members are working with state officials to determine which ventilators to purchase for disaster preparedness and are also developing a statewide policy on ventilator triage in the event of a mass casualty incident. The latter will serve as guidance on issues like when to remove someone with a poor chance of survival from ventilation in order to give someone else who is more likely to survive a chance to live, and what conditions should trigger a decision not to place someone on mechanical ventilation.

Connecticut: CTSRC members are serving on hospital-based emergency preparedness committees throughout the state, and emergency preparedness is discussed monthly at CTSRC Board of Directors meetings. An Emergency Preparedness Committee has been added for 2007, with a NIMS certified chair. In addition, several members regularly attend the CT Hospital Association Meetings for Respiratory Care Directors/Managers. Along with state health officials, the state society is also in the process of reviewing ventilators being considered for stockpiling within the state and will be assisting the state in developing statewide training and competencies on the chosen ventilator. The CTSRC also has a representative on the state’s Emergency Credentialing Committee.

Florida: The FSRC has been working with state health officials since 2003 to train respiratory therapists on the use of ventilators purchased for emergency situations in Florida and is developing a one hour continuing education course that it hopes will be made mandatory by the Florida Board of Respiratory Care in the summer of 2007. The state society has shared the AARC’s ventilator guidance document with its contacts in the state government and is also working with the state on equipment selection, allocation, and distribution; educational issues; and capability issues, including an overall strategic plan for respiratory therapists in an all-hazards approach to care.

Minnesota: The MSRC Disaster Committee chair has participated in emergency preparedness table top exercises and has also conducted a ventilator inventory in the Twin Cities and statewide. In addition, the MSRC has formed a new Disaster Preparedness Committee to provide RT education, foster participation in Minnesota DMAT operations and health department committees, and use the MSRC web site as a disaster communication tool for RTs.

Mississippi: RTs have attended countywide disaster planning meetings along with EMS professionals, emergency volunteers, and other county officials. The MSRC has circulated the AARC’s ventilator guidance document to its members, instructing them to use the document as their primary tool when working with officials. The state society is also compiling an RT emergency contact tree that will include every RT department director at every hospital in the state.

Missouri: The past president of the MSRC is serving on a state committee set up to address pandemic influenza and other issues. The group has been charged with reviewing documents related to health care delivery in the event of a pandemic or other health care crisis.

Montana: The MSRC delegate has contacted the state’s medical officer to offer the state society’s assistance in providing respiratory care in an emergency situation such as an influenza outbreak.

New York: NYSSRC therapists have assisted both the state and New York City in assessing ventilators for use in disaster response. On a state basis, an RT served on a special work group formed by the health department to develop criteria for these ventilators and also assisted the state in evaluating ventilators to determine if they could meet those criteria. In NYC, a group of therapists met with city health officials to discuss respiratory needs in emergency situations and also reviewed surge ventilators being considered for purchase by the state. The AARC’s ventilator guidance document was used in the review process to identify core qualifications for the ventilators.

Ohio: RTs from across the state participated in several conference calls with state officials on the acquisition of surge capacity ventilators and the logistical concerns surrounding these devices. Therapists were asked to weigh in on how they would like the ventilators to be stored, maintained, and transported to the site of a disaster. RTs were also surveyed on these topics, and the state is keeping the OSRC informed of developments.

Pennsylvania: The PSRC’s Disaster Planning Committee chair has networked with state health officials to help define the role of the RT in a disaster and ensure RTs take the lead in patient care and ventilator management. The state society also plans to use its web site to post educational information and guidance on pandemic influenza.

South Carolina: The SCSRC has received a $20,000 HRSA grant to assist the state in determining ventilator needs in emergency situations. The state society plans to use the AARC’s ventilator guidance document in its project, which will include building a multi-faceted computer system and database, developing electronic surveys to assist in determining the number and types of ventilators currently available statewide, and developing a state-specific document to assist hospitals in determining ventilator needs for their facilities and the particular patient populations in their region.

Texas: TSRC representatives attended a Preparedness Planning Conference, where they offered the state their assistance in disseminating information and mobilizing RTs statewide in the event of an emergency situation. The state society also offered to provide advice, education, and training in various areas of respiratory care.

Virginia: The VSRC president has participated in a Pandemic Flu State Meeting and the state society’s Disaster Committee chair has taken part in discussions regarding mechanical ventilation for emergency situations. The VSRC has circulated the AARC’s ventilator guidance document to officials on a state and regional basis and has also shared the document with members of its board of directors.

Wisconsin: Twenty WSRC members from across the state are serving on an Expert Panel on Ventilator Capacity set up by the state d irector of hospital bioterrorism preparedness. The group is using the AARC ventilator guidance document to finalize required features for potential ventilator purchases.