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15.01.2021 | Kommentarer

To Work as a Nurse in Disaster and Vulnerable Areas


Bett Billy Kimutai, Bsc Student, Bachelor in Healthcare, Nursing, Novia UAS
Anita Wikberg, Supervisor, RN, RM, PhD, Senior Lecturer, Novia UAS


In the article at hand, there is the exposition of the topic, "to work as a nurse in disaster and vulnerable areas." Under the above topic, diverse issues are covered. The first one is the disasters and their types, which adds to the knowledge of nurses. They will know the types of emergencies to face and encounter. Besides, there is an exposition on the steps that are taken to resolve the miseries caused by the disasters that have occurred. The steps are standardized to cover different types of disasters explored. Also, the roles of nurses as they work in disaster and vulnerable areas have been exhausted, which potentially makes them aware of what is expected of them by the disaster victims and the management at large. Finally, there is the coverage of the qualities and skills required of nurses as they resolve to help the victims of disasters.

Keywords: disaster, vulnerable areas, nurses, emergency, victims,


To Work as a Nurse in Disaster and Vulnerable Areas

Working as a nurse in disaster and vulnerable areas is a process and privilege that requires a whole lot of experience, knowledge, and skills. It is because people's lives are being dealt with: people who are already facing danger to their lives, wellbeing, and property. Thus, nurses are protracted to endanger their lives as they try their might to save the lives of other people (Allender, Rector, & Warner, 2013, p42). Disaster and vulnerable areas pose emergencies that also calls for emergency actions from the side of nurses. In an emergency, nurses are always the first group of personnel called upon to issue treatments, care, isolation, and evacuation services to the victims. Hence, working in such emergencies, there needs to be an understanding of various types of emergencies and disasters, steps taken to resolve the issues during emergencies, and the roles of nurses during disaster management and response (Veenema, 2012, p38). Others include the nursing skills and qualities to apply during disaster response.

First, disaster and vulnerable areas refer to a serious disruption on the functioning of a given community or a society involving widespread material, human, environmental, and economic impacts. Such impacts exceed the abilities of the affected societies to cope using their available resources. As such, disaster management is concerned with how such calamities are dealt with. Nurses are among the chief personnel required in disaster management (Bonito & Minami, 2017, p4). They deal with the human impacts of the disasters that have occurred. Disasters can have either human or natural origins. Thus, disasters come in different types. One of them is natural disasters. They are the naturally occurring physical phenomena that are caused by either slow or rapid onset events having immediate impacts on human health alongside their secondary effects leading to suffering and death. They can be climatological in nature, which refers to wildfires, droughts, and extreme temperatures or geophysical touching on tsunamis, landslides, earthquakes, and volcanic activities (Veenema, 2019, p16). Also, they can be hydrological in nature, touching on floods and avalanches, biological touching on animal plagues and disease epidemics or meteorological, and touches on wave surges and cyclones. They are characterized by their intensity, duration, speed, and area of extent.

Besides, there are human-made disasters. They are the events caused by human beings and occur close to or in human settlements. They are caused by technological or environmental emergencies such as pollution, accidents, or environmental degradation. There are also complex emergencies as one of the disasters. They are the disasters resulting from multiple hazards that can be the combination of both human-made and natural disasters. They can include epidemics, food insecurity, displaced populations, and armed conflicts (Veenema, 2012, p18). Such has the features including the loss of lives, displacement of populations, alongside extensive violence. It can also include military and political constraints impacting humanitarian assistance. Finally, there are pandemic emergencies. It refers to the epidemic of infectious disease spread in a large region. It occurs to human or animal population and can affect health as well as disrupt services that lead to social and economic costs. They can include the pandemics of Zika, Ebola, Coronavirus, Yellow Fever, Malaria, and Cholera (Allender, Rector, & Warner, 2013, p8). As such, the nurses should be familiar with the above-explored variations of disasters and vulnerabilities and the fact that they can occur at any place across the globe and at any time. They should, therefore, be prepared to face them in the run to salvage the lives of the population at risk.

There is a standardized procedure to be followed by nurses during emergencies: where they work in disaster and vulnerable areas for the benefit of humanity. The procedure is coded in the five steps to emergency preparedness for any given disaster. First, nurses should be aware of the risks to anticipate (Veenema, 2012, p48). There should be a wide exposure and knowledge of the risks associated with various emergencies to happen as well as the ones that the nurses are responsible for taking part in their combat and saving of people's lives. Hence, nurses should list potential emergencies and rank them according to the importance and the likelihood of happening. It will aid them in understanding what needs to be done alongside the resources that should be used. The assessment of risks by the nurses and their teams needs to be based on the all-hazards approach for the hazards affecting the world. Following the ranking of the hazards and risks, there should then be their categories based on the impacts on humanity in the event they occur.

Secondly, the nurses should build teams to work on different emergencies based on their respective competencies and specializations. Since there are different types of disasters, ranked according to their likelihoods of occurrence in specific regions, nursing teams established and categorized respectively will aid in their optimal combat. Teams from different departments aids in effective planning of the entire span of emergency plans alongside the four phases of emergency management. They include mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. They should involve security, public relations, human resources, management, and safety departments from the beginning of their planning phases (Veenema, 2019, p34). Thirdly, nurses should make critical and essential information to be quickly accessible. It concerns the emergency plan that needs to be critically understood by the nurse teams formed. They should readily know the procedures to be followed once the disasters of their specialization arise. Plans should, thus, be concise to the threats being expected, the risks associated with them, as well as the actions to be taken against them. There is also the need to keep updating the alert the response procedures. It will reflect and adapt to the latest technological advances, procedures, information, innovations, and legal requirements (Bonito & Minami, 2017, p12). The emergency plan needs to get tested, too. It will help in determining its working stature, capacity, and ability. It will also help in understanding how to handle the emergency and save the victims while not putting the lives of the nurses at risk. In the end, the nurses will have the capacity to work in disaster and vulnerable areas, more so in live-saving missions where they specialize.

For nurses to work in disaster and vulnerable areas, there are the roles they are supposed to play as they save the lives of humanity in danger. The Red Cross depends on the support from student nurses, nurse volunteers, and registered nurses to help serve in the disaster response teams as leaders, educators, and clinicians. One of the roles played by nurses in disaster response includes serving within the organizations they are attached (Veenema, 2019, p28). In such circumstances, they are supposed to develop the understanding of the preparedness to disasters alongside the response plans, protocols of operation, as well as the security measures that help to know what the employers expect of them as they work in disaster and vulnerable areas. Besides, nurses provide education to consumers and community givers to provide them with the necessary knowledge needed to go through the disaster as well as helping other people. Such knowledge can help in alleviating fears and anxiety amongst the affected population (Allender, Rector, & Warner, 2013, p26).

Moreover, nurses take part in volunteering during disasters and emergencies. More so, nurses who take part in volunteering activities and get involved in the organized disaster response teams are considered much better prepared when the disaster strikes. They have been well trained in matters surrounding the emergency handling and have the upper hand, where they can lead the pack in providing medical and even food reliefs to the affected population. Furthermore, nurses assist during a disaster. Such is undertaken via the process where nurses have been assigned diverse tasks and responsibilities when a given disaster strikes. Such tasks can include the delivery of first aids to affected victims as well as medications to save their lives.

Also, they can be assigned the duties of assessing the victims to establish and understand their states alongside monitoring their mental health needs to relieve them of such conditions as stresses, depression, and coma. Finally, nurses have the roles of preparing themselves and their families. It turns out that nurses, too, have family members who depend on them (Bonito & Minami, 2017, p36). Ensuring personal preparations with the relevant emergency plans alongside basic emergency supplies can work to help in ensuring that their respective families are safe as they ease their worries to the nurses. Some of the other considerations to put in place include reliable communications alongside compiling essential paperwork.

In dealing with the above roles and responsibilities, some exceptional qualities and skills need to be possessed by nurses. It is because they are dealing with the lives of people. The first one is that nurses are supposed to be caring. It is the number one quality of a good nurse, especially when operating in disaster and vulnerable areas. It makes it possible to be compassionate as well as to provide quality care to the affected patients (Veenema, 2013, p22). During emergencies, nurses act as the most accessible lot of contact for families and their patients. Thus, a great nurse can do the job effectively while showing compassion, sympathy, and concern to the individuals being served.

Besides, nurses working in disaster areas need to have excellent communication skills. The skills are required for one to effectively follow the instructions and directives from the seniors as well as for communication with the families and their patients. Since patents in disasters are not always ready and unable to speak for themselves, they and their families depend on the nurses for such kinds of support (Allender, Rector, & Warner, 2013, p22). A nurse should be supportive by effectively advocating for the patients when any problems arise or when a concern is seen, and it needs to get addressed. A nurse should also have a genuine smile that assures the patients alongside giving comfort to them, making them know that nurses care for them. Besides, nurses should be empathetic. It refers to the ability of the nurses to sincerely hear as well as share in the feelings of the patient (Veenema, 2013, p24). In such a situation, nurses should listen while trying to understand where the pains and suffering of the patients can be coming from. The patient will feel seen and heard without any form of judgment, with a recognition that every person has distinct life experiences, sets of values, as well as perspectives.

Furthermore, nurses should pay attention to detail. Such happens as they provide medical care to ensure that all the necessary instructions have also been followed to ensure that proper medication and dosages are offered, and finally, to see to that accurate records of all the medications and patient cases during the disasters have been kept. Nurses, moreover, are supposed to be optimal problem solvers (Veenema, 2019, p24). They should have the capability to exercise proficient judgments alongside thinking quickly to address problems encountered in disaster and vulnerable areas. They should also respect the patients, colleagues, as well as healthy boundaries. Nurses should also have self-awareness. Knowing oneself will enable the nurses to create a great nursing career, more especially when dealing with patients and victims of disaster and vulnerable areas (Allender, Rector, & Warner, 2013, p12). The nurse will understand the working environment that best fits for them and provide excellent services and output. Finally, nurses should have the desire to keep and continue learning. Such can be from colleagues and workplace environments where they interact with diverse experiences as they strive to save the lives of disaster patients.

Finally, during the working of nurses in disaster and vulnerable areas, they should adhere to diverse principles set to dictate the risk reduction during disasters alongside ensuring the resilience of a people (Bonito & Minami, 2017, p24). They range from general principles, ethical principles applied before, during, and after disasters. Such principles are set according to the organizations that the nurses work for. They assure orderly processes in their nursing activities.