Prepare for Natural Disasters when Caring for Sick or Injured Companions: Learning from recent Caribbean Earthquakes and Hurricanes
Preparing for natural disasters when you care for sick or injured loved ones is imperative. The recent string of hurricanes and earthquakes in our region has highlighted that disaster preparation is key for navigating these unfortunate events. In light of these natural disasters, AeroMD has compiled tips to prepare for such a situation, should you or someone for whom you care with a chronic health condition, be affected in an island environment:
For patients who require everyday treatment, such as dialysis…
When a predictable natural disaster is looming, such as a hurricane, talk to your healthcare specialist beforehand about back-up medical treatment facilities nearby, should your everyday location be compromised during a disaster. Prepare a hard copy list of back-up treatment options, both on and off-island in case complex care is interrupted by a storm.
For patients who require everyday medication, such as insulin…
Have at least 10 days of your medication on-hand that you do not touch under any other circumstances. Ensure this supply does not expire. Plan to keep items like insulin refrigerated in coolers, should you lose power during a disaster. Know of several pharmacies at which you can obtain additional medication, should your primary resource undergo severe damage during a disaster. Planning around necessary medications, is a key to preparing to care for sick or injured companions after a natural disaster strikes.
For victims who fall ill during a disaster…
If you or your loved ones have a family history of heart attack or stroke, take extra precautions during stressful disasters like hurricanes or repeat earthquakes and aftershocks. To ensure the best natural disaster care, map several routes to your nearest emergency room, should debris block your quickest way. Take a class in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), so that you are ready to administer it while you await professional medical response for help in an emergency. Learn the early warning signs as well.
For victims who get injured during a disaster…
When flying / falling debris causes injury, call for professional emergency medical services. While awaiting professional support do what you can to stabilize the individual—for example, prevent excess bleeding or create a temporarily split / sling for a broken bone. A first-aid class can help you prepare to administer this initial treatment properly. To ensure the best natural disaster care, be sure that your home and place of business are prepared with first-aid kits that are stocked up with bandages and unexpired, over-the-counter medications.
After a natural disaster, the most imperative capability is communication. Particularly if you care for someone prone to injury or illness, you will need to be able to contact emergency services if needed. Prepare for your home and office to potentially be without electricity, internet and phone service for an extended length of time. Consider investing in a satellite phone and have a hard copy list of emergency numbers on-hand.
Should your residence or place of business become compromised during a natural disaster, you need an established plan of nearby back-up options. Know where your nearest community shelter is located, as they are generally selected as the most stable structures in low-risk areas. Contact your government’s disaster management entity for more information. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, contact the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA): http://vitema.vi.gov/.
Bear in-mind that vehicles are easily immobilized by falling debris, high winds or flood waters. Especially if you care for a loved one who relies on transportation to / from medical services or a pharmacy for essential medications, have alternate plans for access. Remember that rental vehicles sell out quickly with long-term renters after natural disasters, so have multiple vehicles available to accommodate those sick or injured among family and friends.
Be certain to have enough drinking water on-hand for everyone in your household for up to 10 days. Remember that without power you will be unable to run the household pump to access cistern water. Meals ready to eat (also known as MREs) are a good idea to store with emergency supplies, along with canned goods and other non-perishable foods. Ensure these nutrition items meet the dietary needs of any ill or elderly loved ones for whom you are responsible. If you are a business owner that provides essential services, prepare the office to cover the needs of your team and potentially their family members too. Look into logistical options for restocking for extreme situations.
While most Caribbean residents are prepared for long-term power losses in hurricane season, it is advisable to be ready for a natural disaster (like an earthquake or tsunami) to strike year-round. Keep a generator on-hand with all the necessary fuel, extension cords, and other necessary items to keep it running. It is also a good idea to invest some time in learning about basic generator maintenance, as in an extended power outage you will need to service this piece of equipment. Store the generator above ground level in case of flooding. Consider solar options as well such as lights, fans and radios.
Overall, the most important thing you can do for yourself and those with whom you live and work, is to stock your home and place of business with current disaster supplies. Talk to your or your companion’s medical specialist about specific preparation to handle a health condition under extreme circumstances. AeroMD is here to help in the wake of natural disasters. You can request a flight online anytime at Aeromd.com/request-a-flight/ or by calling 1-844-AeroMD-1.
AeroMD Air Ambulance serves our neighbors throughout the Caribbean and worldwide.
“My best case for survival was to be taken off-island.”
Charles Jaquays, AeroMD Patient
“You guys saved [my husband's] life.”
Eileen des Jardins, Patient Companion
“If it wasn't for [AeroMD], I wouldn't be here today.”
Hayley Rodriguez, AeroMD Patient