Steps to Take NOW During Southern California's Wildfires

Last night residents in the City of Thousand Oaks and surrounding areas were evacuated due to the massive fire which is currently at 0% containment and spreading. Another fire has started in Griffith Park and due to the expected winds this afternoon, it will most likely grow.

Changes in climate have created year round temperatures in the 80’s and no rain in Southern California. These are perfect conditions for wildfires and we’ve seen a surge in the past couple of years. If your agency hasn’t added Wildfires to your Emergency Operations Plan, you should, right now, because this threat has surpassed both Earthquakes and Terrorism as possible threats to person and property.

Here are the steps you need to take RIGHT NOW to stay compliant and keep your patients safe:

  1. Print a list of patients by Acuity, from highest to lowest. That list should include:

    1. Patient Name

    2. Patient Address

    3. Patient Contact Information

    4. Patient Primary Diagnosis

    5. Patient Acuity

    6. MD Contact Information

  2. Identify which patients are:

    1. Within evacuation zones:

      1. Contact each patient to ensure they have evacuated and are safe. Note their temporary locations in the patient record.

      2. If a patient in an evacuated zone hasn’t evacuated instruct them to evacuate immediately.

      3. If they are trapped:

        1. Call 911 for them and give their location

        2. Instruct them to turn on lights to help rescuers find them.

        3. Instruct them to go to a room with no windows and to close the doors, if possible.

      4. If you are unable to locate the patient, call their local fire department and report it.

    2. Near evacuation zones:

      1. Contact each patient and inform them they are in evacuation zones. Often elderly people don’t have access to news as quickly as younger people. Immigrant seniors generally watch TV programs from their native countries and may not know that there is an issue.

      2. Instruct them to close all doors and windows and turn on any air filtration systems they may have.

      3. Instruct them to gather:

        1. Any important documents and store in a safe location away from their homes.

        2. Prepare a couple days of worth of food/water, medications/medical supplies (insulin, syringes, dressings).

        3. Pack a change of clothes, personal items and sanitation supplies for each person in your household in case of an evacuation.

        4. Designate a room that can be closed off from outside air. Keep all doors and windows closed. Set up a portable air cleaner to keep indoor pollution levels low when smoky conditions exist.

    3. In areas with greatly reduced air quality (this includes patients in points 2.a and 2.b)

      1. All items in point 2.b.ii and 2.b.iii.

      2. Identify patients with respiratory issues such as asthma:

        1. Contact their doctors and get instructions for any potential medication changes as a result of the reduced air quality.

        2. Ask for MD orders in case of minor breathing problems as well as severe breathing issues.

        3. If necessary, send a PRN nursing visit to teach instructions gathered from the MD.

      3. Identify patients who are using medical equipment that runs on electricity (ventilators, IV pumps, feeding pumps):

        1. Confirm they know what to do if there is a power failure

        2. If necessary, send a PRN nursing visit to teach instructions on what to do with equipment in case of a power failure.

  3. Document every step in the patient’s record as it happens. Have paper Communication Notes and MD Order forms on hand to immediately document any conversations you have.  

TT Medical, Inc. will be releasing a Joint Commission, ACHC and CHAP compliant updated Emergency Operations Plan for Southern California after evaluating our customer’s responses to this emergency. The EOP will include:

  1. Complete Instructions During an Emergency

  2. Patient Handouts

  3. Staff Handouts

If you would like to be notified when the updated EOP will be available for download, please sign your agency up here:

Joint Commission, ACHC and CHAP Compliant Emergency Operations Plan

Sign Up


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