This post is the third in a series on the unique challenges encountered by those living in the aftermath of a brain injury when they’re required to address issues related to emergency preparedness. There are many possible such issues that can arise regarding medical/health concerns. Below is a list of some of those issues.
1. When people are forced to evacuate from areas effected by a natural disaster, there is an immediate substantial population increase in those cities evacuated to. This puts a remarkable strain on any local medical system, particularly pharmacies. Let’s look for example at a city which has pharmacies normally prepared to have enough medication on hand for a population of 50,000. Following an evacuation, the actual population may increase to 70,000. Pharmacies are not equipped to deal with this increase and medication shortages inevitably occur. Most government agencies recommend that people bring a one to two weeks’ supply of medication with them when they evacuate. You may want to err on the side of caution and bring enough for two weeks to one month. This same rule of thumb should also be used when preparing a stock of disposable medical items such as syringes, incontinence supplies and testing strips.
2. In general, medications are sensitive to heat. Keeping them in the trunk of a car or a similar location on a warm day can cause medications to degrade. Further, many medications such as insulin require refrigeration. For these medications, consider mobile storage in an icebox with cold packs or in a portable refrigeration device.
3. Medications should be kept in their original boxes/bottles and be transported in a container capable of being sealed and re-sealed, such as a plastic bag with a zipper. Do not take medications and dump them all into one container. This is a nightmare to sort through later and can lead to crucial delays and even errors in medication administered.
4. Medical devices and equipment should be protected from water or other potential environmental hazards.
5 . If a medical device or equipment operates on electricity, make sure to bring an emergency power source such as extra batteries or a car adapter power cord.
6. Keep a list of all important medical information. This includes information such as health history, medications (with dosages), doctors, allergies and immunizations. The Center for Disease Control has an excellent example of such a list available for download from their website: www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/kiwy.asp
Another excellent example can be downloaded from the AARP website: assets.aarp.org/www.aarp.org_/articles/ctg/ARPCOR9008_Individual_Tool_Kit_021909.pdf
7. Identify in the area that’s been evacuated to the medical and health facilities that would need to be relied upon were an emergency to occur, such as hospitals and pharmacies.
8. Following a brain injury many survivors require a special diet, such as a diabetic diet. When purchasing food for an evacuation, it is important to keep this special diet in mind. For instance it may be important to check boxed foods, such as crackers, for their sugar and sodium levels.
9. If a survivor has an item that helps to communicate difficulties suffered, such as a medical bracelet or aphasia card, it is important not to forget such an item. These items do not help the survivor if they are left at home.
10. If a survivor has pain issues, it is a good idea to pre-plan breaks in the trip as long periods confined to a car tend to exacerbate existing pain issues.
Hopefully this post helped to raise awareness regarding medical/health issues that a brain injury survivor needs to consider in the context of emergency preparedness. The next post will cover cognitive and stress issues as they relate to emergency preparedness in such a scenario.
Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org