When a disaster occurs the health centre or hospital in the stricken area may for some time be the only health resource available. For that reason it is essential in risk areas to prepare it for the emergency that may occur.
In particular, provision must be made in the health centre or hospital for:
· premises for receiving and sorting the injured,
· a reserve stock of emergency medicaments,1
1 See WHO emergency health kit: standard drugs and clinic equipment for 10 000 persons for 3 months. Geneva, World Health Organization, 1984 (new edition in preparation).
· a stock of medical supplies for use in emergencies (see Annex 9),
· essential medical equipment, bearing in mind the level of professional skill of the local health personnel (sterilization, minor surgery, resuscitation, etc.),
· ensuring the availability of the water, electricity, fuel and supplies needed for the health facility to function,
· means of transport (ambulances, other vehicles),
· means of communication (telephone, radio, etc.).
When the local health personnel include several professionnals, a plan for emergencies must be prepared which assigns to each of them precise tasks, such as:
· coordination of reception of cases,
· screening and emergency care,
· organization of the voluntary health workers in the health facility,
· organization of the voluntary health workers in the community,
2 See also: Health services organization in the event of disaster. Washington DC, Pan American Health Organization, 1983 (Scientific Publication No. 443).
· the tasks and responsibilities of the staff,
· instructions for using the disaster warning systems,
· explanation of firefighting techniques and the points at which extinguishing equipment is kept,
· ways and means of evacuating hospitalized patients,
· periodic exercises and dummy runs.