Forward planning critical in disaster management


Collaborative forward planning between hospitals and other industries is essential in order to formulate an efficient and effective response to natural disasters.

That is the view of Leslie Porth, Vice President of Health Planning for Missouri Hospital Association and author of a report titled Preparedness and Partnerships: lessons learned from the Missouri disasters of 2011.

Porth found that while the magnitude of the Joplin tornado of 2011 had not been fully anticipate in emergency response plans, existing emergency plans did serve to guide the hospitals’ responses to good effect. One of the most important elements was the Missouri Hospital Mutual Aid Agreement (MAA), signed by approximately 92 per cent of Missouri’s hospitals.

“The MAA provided the legal and financial framework for hospitals in Missouri to lend and receive resources during the disaster response,” says Porth. “The MAA is one of the architectural components for regional collaborative planning among healthcare professionals to establish formalized relationships and expectations. The MAA was activated immediately following the tornado strike resulting in resources arriving, including staff, immediately after the tornado struck.”

The success of the MAA highlights the importance of planning across a broad geographical area and a wide range of facilities.

“The disaster demonstrated the value of regional planning including different industries and jurisdictions,” says Porth. “Collaborative planning followed by extensive exercises to break the plans must be a priority.”

Health Planning, Missouri Hospital, Joplin tornado, Mutual Aid Agreement (MAA), disaster management, crisis management, risk management