“If you’re on a fault line,” Kotora said, “you’re going to have
disruption in the architecture of a building or several buildings,
and that’s going to cause natural gas leaks. It’s going to cause
gas lines to rupture, water mains to rupture, so you’re going to
have problems with flooding. There will be sewer ruptures, so
you’re going to have contamination of drinking water.”
Contaminated water means that people will suffer diarrhea.
Displaced people who land in shelters have an increased
chance of respiratory ailments.
“One kind of leads to the others,” Kotora said, “and you use
these tools to try to identify the hazards and then a way
around those hazards.”
Take It Away
He hopes Emergency Nursing 2016 attendees will leave with
two primary takeaways.
“A disaster is not the time to exchange business cards,” Kotora
said. “Preparation is the meat and potatoes of disaster
preparedness. Relationships should be fostered and massaged
and cultivated long before the actual incident happens. Get to
know your emergency managers of all the organizations that
rely on you and that you rely on. Exxon has an emergency
manager. Large power companies have emergency managers.
Several construction companies have emergency managers.
Fostering those relationships, trying to become on a first-name
basis with people, is critically important. Throughout my
career in disaster preparedness, it has paid me tremendous
dividends to have contacts that I can call and say, ‘This is my
situation – I need your help.’”
The second biggest takeaway is all disasters are local.
“People tend to say, ‘FEMA is going to help us,’” Kotora said.
“FEMA will help, but it’s not going to be for quite a while.
You’re going to be on your own for a long time. If people are
prepared to handle the first week of a disaster, then they’re
probably better off than 90 percent of the people who don’t
put a lot of emphasis on disaster preparedness. You’ll probably
have state resources within a day. If you have competing
interests, you have multiple disasters – such as in Hurricane
Sandy – and you are stretched thin across your state, people
are going to help you, but it’s going to take a long time. And if
there’s a large-scale disaster and you’re only a portion of it,
your local infrastructure is going to be the difference between
whether that disaster is viewed as a success or a failure.” n
By Thomas Pfeifer
ENA Connection Contributor
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