Emergencies - Part 1

Be Ready - Part One

How prepared is your office for an emergency? Emergencies take many forms: anything from a medical emergency with a patient who passes out after drops are instilled to a tornado or earthquake or, heaven forbid, to a fire or explosion. Especially with the wildly unpredictable weather events occuring, it's time to prepare for these worst-case scenarios.

First, brainstorm at a staff meeting about all the different situations that might occur specifically at your practice. What kinds of extreme weather might you be likely to experience? Are you in a tsunami zone? Could you lose power and be unable to go home due to a gigantic blizzard? Is the practice located near a train track where a derailment could cause a toxic spill? Make a list of every potential emergency that can be imagined.

Next, walk through the building and identify potential hazards. As you look around, be sure to note and identify the location of fuse boxes, fire extinguishers, alarm systems, etc. If you have an on-site lab, are there any hazardous chemicals present? Does your office stock alcohol, disinfectants, anesthetic agents, sterilizers, emergency food rations, flashlights, blankets, etc.? Do you have smoke and/or carbon monoxide detectors installed and are the batteries up-to-date? Are you disposing of bio-hazardous waste appropriately?

Now develop an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) and appoint a Safety Officer. If you already have an EAP, when was the last time you reviewed it for accuracy and timeliness? Invest the time to make sure you have all the tools you need in place. Proper preparation will ensure your office can deal with an emergency calmly and effectively.