A direct correlation between vulnerability and risk factors is identified in the assigned articles. Rothman & Brown’s article “The Vulnerable Geriatric Casualty: Medical Needs of Frail Older Adults During Disasters,” highlights the barriers faced among the elderly and disaster teams relating to survival, evacuation, shelter and caring for this special population. (Rothman & Brown, 2007/2008) The challenge identified during hurricane Katrina has been used to develop a framework for future disaster planning.
On a daily basis we take activities of daily living for granted and do not realize the impact of immobility and comprehension have on the older population until faced with a natural disaster. During disaster situations the needs of this special population are compounded when they have to leave their homes, specialized medical equipment, medications and caregivers behind. Many of these displaced residents are unable to effectively communicate their medical history, or medications they are taking. Furthermore most shelters are not typically set up for comfort or to provide skilled care, leaving the elderly even more at a disadvantage.
In trying to care for this vulnerable population produced an overwhelming task for medical personnel. The authors found that “people with disabilities are most likely to suffer a decline in functional status during or after a disaster’ (Rothman & Brown, 2007/2008) and discusses the need for rapid assessment and intervention to ensure survivability in the elderly population.
The knowledge learned from this assignment reinforces my current and past experiences in dealing with special populations in disaster situations. Living in Virginia and being part of the Fire/EMS community I have experienced smaller scale disasters and saw first hand how it impacted the vulnerable populations in our community. We worked in collaboration...
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