From Hurricanes to Wildfires, Healthcare Ready Remains Activated

From Hurricanes to Wildfires, Healthcare Ready Remains Activated

October 18th, 2017

On the heels of one of the most active hurricane seasons to date, we face another threat: wildfires in Northern California. If there’s one thing we have learned from the rapid succession of these catastrophes, it's that unexpected disasters are unpredictable, tenacious, and demand an unwavering level of emergency healthcare support and collaboration. It’s during times like these that Healthcare Ready’s unique position is most valuable.

As the quarterback of public and private emergency relief efforts, our team works to guide emergency reinforcements through the complex web of communication and regulatory obstacles. Through hurricanes, snowstorms, floods, fires and everything in between, we work to bridge the gap between public agencies that lack the resources required to meet the diverse needs of affected communities by connecting them with private companies that don’t possess the information or awareness of where they can make an impact.

Since each natural disaster is unique and requires a specialized public health strategy tailored to meet the individual needs of communities, our partners must stay nimble in order to provide the greatest benefit. That’s where Healthcare Ready comes in – we’re able to tackle pressing challenges and threats in affected areas by providing coordination across the healthcare supply chain and federal government.

Take for example Northern California, where wildfires ravaged homes, schools and town centers, resulting in over 30 deaths and hundreds of missing people across the roughly 170,000 acres of destruction. This critical situation has forced thousands of families into shelters and separated patients from necessary medicines and medical equipment. Healthcare Ready has reached out to local emergency managers, as well as the health department, to support their needs and determine the best ways to continue to back their response efforts.

In addition, the smoke-filled air left in the wake of massive fires poses a critical public health threat and could result in asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, COPD, and even heart failure. We have and will continue to share messages with patients about how best to prevent smoke inhalation and prepare to evacuate their homes if necessary.

While the impact of a single wildfire is catastrophic on its own, when disasters occur simultaneously, back-to-back, and in record-breaking force – as we have seen so vividly this year – the need for public-private coordination is even more essential to protect public health. From Florida and Puerto Rico to Texas and Northern California, Rx Open remains activated in all affected areas and Healthcare Ready remains equipped to help those across the country.

Sarah Baker, MPP

Sarah Baker is the Programs Manager at Healthcare Ready. In this capacity, she leads the policy development, research, and programmatic efforts to the organization's preparedness initiatives. Prior to joining Healthcare Ready, Sarah served as a consultant to the Department of Homeland Security and a variety of private sector organizations, during which time she supported the design, conduct, and evaluation of scores of preparedness exercises. Sarah received her Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy and holds a B.A. degree from the University of Notre Dame.