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Tip of the Week: When Disaster Strikes

by Cassie Moore, ACNM Writer and Editor and Tina Johnson, CNM, ACNM Director of Professional Practice & Health Policy

We’re adding a new feature to Midwife Connection! Each week, you’ll see a new tip from a midwife at ACNM. Tune in every week for the tip, and if you have tips you’d like to share, feel free to e-mail Cassie at [email protected].

Is it just me, or do there seem to be more natural disasters happening closer together? This weekend, we all watched and waited as Hurricane Irene clobbered the East Coast. The hurricane was not as a bad as some expected, but it still claimed lives, caused power outages, damage, and flooding, and chewed through coastal North Carolina. A few days prior, ACNM staff members were rocking and rolling in our 15th floor offices with the arrival of a 5.8 magnitude earthquake—a real rarity around these parts! And on a personal note, I’ll never forget nervously watching the snow pile up, foot upon foot, as I waited to go into labor during Snowmageddon 2010.

Our tip this week comes from Tina Johnson, CNM, ACNM Director of Professional Practice & Health Policy, who reminds us that hospitals, birth centers, and home birth practices should have a disaster or emergency response plan in place. If you don’t have a plan, now’s the time to put one together! I poked around online and found this one from the University of Toledo Medical Center. And here’s a great bunch of links to resources on emergency preparedness and response. Also, check out ACNM’s guide to emergency preparedness for childbirth.

Here are some other things to consider and talk about with your clients:

  • If there’s a natural disaster, major storm, or power outage on or near your client’s due date, what are your plans? Where should clients go, and how will they get there? What is the best way for clients to reach you? The takeaway lesson from the earthquake in Virginia last week was that people could reach each other by text message much more quickly than by other means.

  • If your hospital, birthing center, or client's home is in an area prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, flooding, etc., do you have a backup place to go in case your primary location is inaccessible or unsafe?

  • Do you or your clients have access to a 4-wheel drive vehicle in case of snow or ice?

  • If working at a birthing center, can your clients stay overnight if they can’t reach their home safely after baby’s birth?

What are we missing? Can you offer any other tips or suggestions for emergency preparedness? Tell us in the comments!

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Posted 8/29/2011 2:48:17 PM



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