It seems that one natural disaster after another is taking place, from multiple hurricanes battering the US and Caribbean islands to major earthquakes devastating communities. The people left reeling in these disaster-stricken areas all have a serious need for the help and skills of nurses. There is often a larger than normal medical need in the areas surrounding a disaster, and some nurses may be unable to work due to their own personal circumstances.
Who Is a Suitable Candidate?
Nursing in a disaster situation is not something that every person is cut out to handle. Working in a devastated area may mean poor conditions and limited equipment. You may have inadequate living conditions or be required to work very long hours on your feet. You should be a strong problem solver who can think on your feet and come up with solutions despite few available resources. If you’re in good health, are determined to handle harsh conditions, and are confident in your job-related skills, working in disaster relief might be a good choice for you.
How Do You Get Involved?
A number of organizations can assist nurses in finding opportunities to work in disaster relief situations. Volunteer organizations like the Salvation Army and the Red Cross can help to place nurses into areas of need. Medical staffing firms also are a great resource that help nurses temporarily relocate to an area that is in need of professionals willing to assist in crises. One important thing to remember is not to simply jump in your car and head to a place where you can help out. Organization in these situations is crucial, and the proper channels should be followed.
How Should You Prepare?
Find out about the resources that are available for those who are working within the devastated area. If there are shortages of supplies and provisions, consider bringing along your own if your source of travel permits. Keep in mind that stores may not be open, so personal items and toiletries should be brought with you. Most volunteer and staffing agencies will be able to advise you on the specific things you should and should not bring so that you can be prepared. Take heed of the advice given by these agencies, as storage areas may be limited to store your personal bags.
What Should You Expect to See?
Depending on the nature of the disaster, injuries could be severe and difficult to treat in less-than-ideal conditions. You may come into contact with those who have lost loved ones or are unable to locate their families. Homes, livelihoods, and belongings may have been obliterated. You need to be ready to walk into situations that could be disturbing, while still focusing on your job.
If you are called to serve communities that are recovering from a natural disaster, know that though it is difficult at times. However, it may be some of the most rewarding work you will ever experience. Be prepared to hear devastating stories, see the beauty of a caring community, and create relationships you will treasure for a lifetime.
Interested in helping those who were affected by the recent natural disasters, including hurricanes and wildfires? The facilities we partner with need your help! We have multiple openings across many specialties in healthcare & education – head here to check them out.