In response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, MNA staff and members responded to the disaster in many ways. Nurses and other staff met at MNA to discuss strategies, shared information about our members who were on site in New Orleans, posted regular updates about volunteer efforts on the MNA website, organized donations and mailings of scrubs and personal care items to nurses who were already onsite or who traveled to New Orleans, volunteered at the Otis base on the Cape, coordinated communications with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, etc. These efforts were greatly appreciated and led to discussions about ways to organize in the future.
The MNA Emergency Preparedness Task Force has been meeting regularly. Staff are currently organizing Emergency Preparedness Manuals which will contain hard copies of information which may be useful should websites/pc access go down. MNA offered a 3-session course on "All Hazards" Disaster Preparedness over the spring/summer 2006 which was booked to capacity. Several of the attendees, as well as other MNA members, subsequently requested MNA to "please keep their names on a list"—for a future disaster where a call goes out for volunteers. There are many volunteer options to consider, but several members want MNA to maintain a list in order to assure accessibility if needed, and also to use for periodic updates of developments in the now burgeoning—unfortunately—"disaster" field.
At its August 2006 meeting the MNA Board approved the "MNA Emergency Preparedness Volunteer Form" as a method of maintaining contact information for nurses interested in volunteering should the need arise.
MNA most strongly encourages nurses to participate at their local level by becoming involved with their town or city Health Department’s emergency preparedness planning committee and by becoming "CERT trained" (Community Emergency Response Team).The Commonwealth is also organizing a volunteer database called “MSAR” (Massachusetts System of Advance Registration of voluntary health personnel). Contact information is listed below.
Finally MNA most emphatically encourages all volunteers—as with ALL nurses—to obtain your own personal, professional liability coverage to protect your nursing license!
For more information please visit our Emergency Preparedness Articles page within the Health & Safety section, or contact Mary Crotty at firstname.lastname@example.org 781.830.5743 or Chris Pontus, email@example.com, 781.830.5754.