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Hurricane Preparedness Among Healthcare workers in St James



Objective: To assess the preparedness of health workers in St James, Jamaica, to respond to natural disasters.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted on a 25% quota sample of hospital and health department staff in St James in 2005 (n = 307). Awareness of and attitudes to disaster management policies, plans and training and how these influenced their response in Hurricane Ivan were evaluated. Statistical package for the Social Science 11.5 was used to summarize quantitative data, while qualitative data were analyzed manually.

Results: Most respondents (67%) knew of the disaster plan but only 40% had been trained in disaster management. More nurses (68%) and paramedicals (51%) reported being trained than ancillary/auxilliary (33%), medical (21%) or administrative/clerical (18%) staff. Most (96%) had participated in at least one disaster preparedness drill, usually a fire drill, but not in the previous two years. Attitudes towards disaster management were positive (99% insisted training should be compulsory, 95% agreed they should help in a hurricane). The majority (86%) reported being available to work at any time and 77% had worked as scheduled during Hurricane Ivan. Transportation and personal responsibility (to children, elderly or property) were the main limiting factors. Provisions for staff welfare (eg transportation, protective gear, media updates) were perceived as inadequate. Having defined disaster response roles was positively correlated with age, years of service and occupation (p < 0.01)

Conclusion: Health workers in St James have positive attitudes to disaster management but require routine training to compensate for staff turnover. More attention must be given to staff welfare during disasters.

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e-Published: 03 Jul, 2013
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