September 5, 2019

Hurricane Dorian - Here's How Nurses Can Help

Hurricane Dorian - Here's How Nurses Can Help

As Hurricane Dorian moves north on the east coast of Florida, heading towards the Carolinas, we have all watched as the storm caused massive destruction in the Bahamas, killing at least 20 people so far, and wondering what the tropical tempest will do next. Dorian is anticipated to potentially touch down in the Carolinas in the next 48 hours, according to the latest updates from the National Hurricane Center. 

With mandatory evacuations in effect in certain parts of Florida and families and individuals across many counties preparing for the storm, many have been displaced from their homes, residents from nursing homes have been transferred, hospital patients have been moved, and hospital staffing has been disrupted. As we wait to see what the eventual full impact of Dorian will be, healthcare workers aren’t waiting before they are getting involved in efforts to help—nurses around the country are jumping in to fight against Dorian. 

How Nurses are Helping

It may not surprise you to hear that nurses are already heeding the call to help in the wake of Dorian, with a nurse “strike team” deploying out from Kentucky to the Carolinas to offer assistance. The strike team, which is made up of both RNs and administration, was organized by the state’s Department for Public Health and will be working for about two weeks in North Carolina shelters.  

Nurses are also part of the Indiana Task Force 1, a federal search and rescue crew, that dispatched last week with plans to help wherever they could.  The national Registered Nurse Response Network (RNRN), made up of volunteer disaster relief nurses, also joined in the efforts to help by dispatching nurses to Florida and possibly to the Bahamas as they are able. 

According to the American Red Cross, Dorian has impacted around 76,000 people in the Bahamas and preliminary damage reports estimate that over 13,000 houses were damaged or completely destroyed—close to almost half of all the dwellings in Abaco and the Grand Bahama. The sheer amount of destruction is hard to comprehend and the stateside relief efforts were slow initially as they evaluated safety for disaster relief workers to be brought in. As more news is released about the state of the Bahamas, more nurses will be able to be dispatched to assist better, while staying safe themselves. 

Seattle nurse Brian Halpern, who actually just returned after being deployed on August 27th, right before the hurricane hit, told KOMO news that the destruction is widespread in the Bahamas. “I’m pretty worried about the islands there because they were wiped out,” he said. “They were leveled. They’re going to have a lot of needs. They’re going to have needs for simple things like clothing. They’re going to have needs for food, for water, for medical supplies. You know, find it in your heart to give."

What Nurses Can Do Right Now To Help

If you’re looking for ways that you can help in the efforts to help others who may be affected by Hurricane Dorian, here are some ways that nurses can get involved right now:

  • Apply to be a volunteer RNRN dispatch nurse for the rest of the 2019 hurricane season. According to their website, volunteer applicants will be placed on activity standby and could be immediately dispatched for deployment with Dorian, or for other hurricanes this season. In order to select, RNs and NPs must have an active, US-based RN or NP license and prepared to endure challenging physical and emotional conditions, as well as complete a 20-hour training module on their own time. 
  • The American Nurses Association recommends that nurses looking to help with disaster efforts in the wake and after Hurricane Dorian apply for volunteer positions with the American Red Cross.
  • Donate to help people affected by Hurricane Dorian through the Red Cross online, by calling 1-800-RED CROSS, or by texting the word DORIAN to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
  • Check the United Way Association of South Carolina for current volunteer opportunities and current updates for storm needs.  
  • Donate to North Carolina’s United Way hurricane efforts. 
  • Any natural disaster increases the need for blood donations, so donate your own blood and/or plasma, or find a local blood drive to volunteer to assist with getting people in need life-saving blood donations.  
  • If you are wondering if your nursing license will be valid to practice in hurricane-affected areas in the United States, you can check your license type for free to see if your RN license will be valid in the state you hope to volunteer in. 
  • Donate to one of the extensive charity and organized efforts to assist with the victims of the Hurricane through NBC’s list. 

And last but not least, keep on doing what you do best—serving your patients through tropical storms, or just your average Thursdays, just like these fine nurses who are sharing their own scrub selfies through #hurricanedorian


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