Friday, 20 August 2010

Are you Prepared?

No, this isn't a call for Boy Scouts to come and help, it's about being ready for things going wrong.

Recent research on a large number of dialysis patients shows that most have not taken any measures to safeguard themselves if some sort of disaster occurs (or even thought about it for that matter).

How would you handle an emergency evacuation? In August 2005 Hurricane Katrina threated and then wrecked havoc on a huge number of people. Including more than 5,800 Gulf Coast kidney dialysis patients. Dialysis centres were forced to close. Within a month 148 of these patients had died.

Okay, so you don't live in an area threatened by hurricanes, or tornadoes or earthquakes. What about floods? Even a "small" flood can be a disaster and cut off small villages or towns from the rest of the area. Just this week there was an intense rain storm where I was staying, and the downpour stretched the sewer system to its limits, with some drains overflowing due to the mass of water from nearby areas. It wasn't a disaster by any standards. But if it had been a bit bigger and more wide spread, roads could have become impassible. So how would you get to your dialysis clinic if the roads were flooded? There's a road in the valley I live in that is regularly flooded in bad storms. But I know another couple of roads that are not.

What about fire? Could that make some roads unusable? Of course it could, and it doesn't take a forest fire to do this either! A factory fire could prevent many people using their usual routes around town, and result in other roads being jammed with cars. A train crash could do the same thing.

On an even simpler level - what if your car breaks down - do you have a back-up vehicle available? Perhaps you have arranged with a friend to cover this eventuality, but can they come to you at short notice?

From the above research report:-

"End stage kidney disease patients are dependent on medical treatment at regular intervals for their ongoing health, and, as such, are particularly vulnerable to the effects of a disaster. We found that patients on dialysis are largely unprepared for such an event, whether they are forced to stay in their homes or evacuate," said Mark Foster, lead author of the study.

Foster, a UNC medical student, presented the results June 3 at the annual meeting of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine in Phoenix.

So, plan ahead. Have alternative routes to hand, alternative transport readily available. If you are on home dialysis and the local area has some disaster strike, have a plan to get you and your equipment out? Have something in place in case there is an electricity cut. Yes, something as simple and common as that has to be considered as well.

If you live where a natural disaster such as floods can occur, have you enough supplies to keep you going? I don't have all the answers, but it's certainly something you must think about.

Because according to the research done 5 years after Katrina struck, most dialysis patients in that same area are still not prepared for trouble.

I teach people to fly gliders. Before every single take-off we calmly consider everything that might lead to a bad launch and work out what our options are, to reduce the stress. Now it's your turn to do the same.