Preparing for the inevitable: New book for nurses guides patient care during a disaster
Saint Louis University authors present facts about critical new role
ST. LOUIS -- A new book by two Saint Louis University School of Nursing faculty members prepares nurses to do what the public expects – take the lead in caring for them when disaster strikes.
"The first goal is to make nurses aware there is an issue. Every nurse has to be prepared in case of disaster," says Joanne Langan, Ph.D., assistant professor of nursing at Saint Louis University's Doisy College of Health Sciences and a co-author of "Preparing Nurses for Disaster Management."
"The nurses will be sought out for information no matter where they are. Nurses will play key roles in disaster relief whether they work full time, part time or at home in their communities."
For example, St. Louis County has gathered a list of nurses willing to volunteer to give smallpox vaccinations should mass immunization become necessary.
Driven by the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks, Langan collaborated on "Preparing Nurses for Disaster Management" with Dotti James, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing at Saint Louis University. They say they wrote the book because there wasn't one place nurses could find comprehensive information about what to do during disaster.
"We have an obligation as nurses to protect patients. Part of the protection now is to know what to do," James says.
"Preparing Nurses for Disaster Management" addresses the issues nurses face in caring for patients – from newborns to the elderly -- during any natural or man-made disaster. The textbook includes an extensive list of procedures nurses can follow, personal anecdotes from nurses who have dealt with disasters and trauma care, and extensive Internet resources. It is written in an easy, non-technical style and presents practical information that most nurses don't think about on a daily basis.
Langan and James were on a team of Saint Louis University health professionals who visited Israel two years ago to see how nurses in that country deal with the ever-present threat of terrorism. While their book borrows from the Israeli experience and includes chapters by Israeli guest authors, it examines disaster care from a United States perspective.
"When we came back, we found that all the information in the United States is scattered. When disaster strikes, nurses have enough to do without scrambling where to get information," James says. "Our book will get them past that feeling of helplessness."
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