ASCP 2018: Disaster Preparedness Tips to Implement in Your Lab

May 10, 2018

By Warren G. Conrow, MLS(ASCP)CM, and Nathan H. Johnson, PhD, MASCP, MT(ASCP)DLM,SC,SLS

Emergencies come in many forms, whether it is a hurricane, blizzard, mass evacuation, or mass casualty. There are so many different kinds of stressors, and you have to be prepared in different ways. The key is to put a plan together, practice that plan, and then adjust that plan.

Laboratories are vulnerable to natural and manmade disasters. Developing policies and procedures, and conducting active “drills” in advance of actual disaster events, can mitigate some of the adverse impact of an unanticipated disaster. In the ASCP 2018 Annual Meeting session, “Dealing with Disasters: Are you an ‘Ostrich’ or an ‘Owl,’” on Wednesday, Oct. 3, we will draw from our own experiences to analyze and discuss various types of disasters to explore how to develop and execute disaster plans to appropriately respond to and survive different types of events.

In the nature of our business—the military—planning for natural disasters, as well as deployments, is done on a regular basis. We’re writing plans and rewriting them, and preparing for mass evacuations, constantly.  We are not only practicing them, but we are getting graded on them all the time. When constructing new facilities, the military is looking at where you locate equipment, where the evacuation routes will be located, etc. If, for example, you put laboratory services and pathology in the basement, you lose that whole functionality in the event of a flood.

As laboratorians, we should be well equipped to be really good planners. We require competency in all the technical things, but maybe we also should in planning, knowing the plans and practicing the plans. We have found no one really enjoys the time expenditure to prepare for the things that you hope will never happen. Everyone complains about practicing the drills, but when it comes right down to it, it’s something you have to do to save a life.

Learn more about the ASCP 2018 Annual Meeting and register here.

Warren G. Conrow, MLS(ASCP)CM is Deputy Chief of the Center for Laboratory Medicine Services, Defense Health Agency. Nathan H. Johnson, PhD, MASCP, MT(ASCP)DLM,SC,SLS, serves as Chair of Laboratory Sciences, College of Health Professions, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Ark. Lt. Col. Conrow and Dr. Johnson will present the ASCP Annual Meeting Session, “Dealing with Disasters: Are you an ‘Ostrich’ or an ‘Owl,’” along with Fred H. Rodriguez, Jr., MD, MASCP, and Kimberly W. Sanford, MD, MASCP, MT(ASCP).