Are you 100% confident that your staff could handle a major emergency if it happened today? If not, it’s time to test your emergency preparedness plan. A trial run can reveal important areas where work is still needed.
Here’s how to set up your emergency plan to make sure it includes the right kinds of training and testing to maintain facility safety and compliance.
Train, Test, Repeat
The emergency preparedness rule, which went into effect in November 2017, is intended to prepare your facility in the event of a disaster, whether the threat comes from nature, technology, infrastructure, or people. The rule lays out four critical training and testing tasks for all facilities.
The 4 primary training and testing tasks are:
EMERGENCY TRAINING. Facilities are expected to develop comprehensive disaster training programs and communicate them to their employees.
ONGOING RETRAINING. Employees should receive annual refreshers on emergency procedures and should be retrained to demonstrate knowledge as necessary.
FACILITY DRILLS. Set up in-house drills that test staff response to various threats. Observe failure points and address them immediately.
COMMUNITY DRILLS. Collaborate with community groups and agencies to conduct mock drills that test your response as part of the community.
Preparedness is a Community Issue
It’s important to note that part of the emergency preparedness rule is being able to prove that you are demonstrating community outreach with your plan. This is because the whole point of the rule is to ensure facilities can work hand-in-hand with first responders to preserve health and life.
There are specific requirements related to training, testing and community collaboration. Here are some examples from cms.gov:
- Facilities must demonstrate completion of two training-related exercises per year, and the plan itself must be updated annually at a minimum.
- An effort should be made to reach out to as many community groups as possible, including first responders, government agencies, regulators, and others.
- Contractors and subcontractors should be trained on the emergency plan, just as employees are.
- Plans must demonstrate compliance with federal and state laws.
When you conduct testing exercises, cast as wide a net as possible in including community stakeholders. The larger-scale your mock disaster exercise is, the bigger its chance for success.
Are We Done Yet?
Many organizations wonder how to decide whether their plan is finished, or whether it would be successful in a real-world disaster. Questions like this are very common during emergency plan implementation, according to cms.gov.
We hate to break it to you, but this is a never-ending process. Repeated testing is the key to identifying and eliminating risks. Each time your facility runs through a disaster scenario, it will discover new issues to be addressed and training still needed.
Consider it a victory that you have a plan in place, and take the steps required to keep it consistently up to date. It’s well worth it for the safety of your facility and patients.
NEXT STEP: Ensure your facility is in full compliance.