I live in deep South Texas and was quite anxious when Hurricane Alex came very close to us a couple of weeks ago. Many of us have to prepare and deal with the anxiety every year during hurricane season, but I know many of us have yearly weather issues depending on the area in which we live. Diabetes educators are among the many health care professionals who have the constant worry about a national emergencies and our responsibility in responding to such emergencies.
Two years ago, I had to go through Hurricane Dolly and learned a lot about preparing patients and family members to deal with the issues accompanied by an emergency.
For example, I learned to make sure patients have enough insulin, syringes, oral hypoglycemic agents, and testing supplies prior to the hurricane in case patients decide to evacuate or stay in a shelter or their home. In retrospect, I should have thought about volunteering in one of the shelters to assist individuals with diabetes. An interesting thing I learned was many patients refused to use the insulin once the power went out for prolonged periods of time because they had always been taught to refrigerate the insulin. I still face a challenge with convincing patients to use the insulin as long as it was not exposed to extreme temperatures.
I know worse natural and man-made disasters have occurred, but I now wonder how diabetes educators in different areas have handled the occurrences and what can be done to have a standardized check list or format for dealing with emergencies. I cannot imagine the challenges encountered during Hurricane Katrina, September 11, 2001, or the earthquake in Haiti. I am curious to know the role of diabetes educators play in preparing for emergencies and how we can assist our colleagues in other areas when encountered with emergencies.
What do you think? How do you help prepare your patients for disasters, and what role do you play in the recovery process?