The 2011 Hurricane Season begins June 1 and with a number of hospitals, outpatient centers, and administrative offices located in hurricane areas, HCA takes extra steps to ensure we are capable of serving our communities if and when this type of disaster strikes.
Last year, while the continental United States saw little activity, major storms affected Mexico and Belize. This year, weather patterns have changed and early predictions show a great potential for storms to impact the U.S. There are predictions of 14 named storms (including tropical depressions), 8 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes. Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.
In addition to conducting annual preparedness exercises, stocking extra supplies, and advance planning, HCA contracts with a private service, ImpactWeather, to provide specific and accurate weather updates. Located in Houston, Texas, ImpactWeather provides alerts, consulting, and site specific information to HCA and other clients, including oil companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico.
Why not just use the national weather service or the local news? Scott Cormier, Director, Emergency Preparedness & Management, said, “First, we provide ImpactWeather with the map coordinates of our facilities in hurricane-prone areas. Their meteorologists provide site specific forecasts including rainfall, wind speed and direction, and time of impact. Secondly, their meteorologists participate in planning conference calls during hurricanes to answer questions about the active storm. Finally, ImpactWeather’s predictive modeling of storms has been very accurate. During 2008, the company’s landfall projection for Hurricane Gustav was within a few miles of where the actual impact occurred. This helps us to put resources in place before the storm arrives.”
The communities HCA serves depend on us to respond in times of disasters, and we can only do that effectively if we first have individual emergency preparedness plans in place. Make sure you are prepared for 2011 Hurricane Season by taking time to become familiar with the emergency preparedness plan in your workplace. Develop your own personal plan to help protect yourself and your family.
- Discuss the type of hazards that could affect your family. Know your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind.
- Locate a safe room or the safest areas in your home for each hurricane hazard. In certain circumstances the safest areas may not be your home but within your community.
- Determine escape routes from your home and places to meet. These should be measured in tens of miles rather than hundreds of miles.
- Have an out-of-state friend as a family contact, so all your family members have a single point of contact.
- Make a plan now for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate.
- Post emergency telephone numbers by your phones and make sure your children know how and when to call 911.
- Check your insurance coverage – flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners insurance.
- Stock non-perishable emergency supplies and a Disaster Supply Kit.
- Use a NOAA weather radio. Remember to replace its battery every 6 months, as you do with your smoke detectors.
- Take First Aid, CPR and disaster preparedness classes.
In the event of a widespread disaster affecting employees and multiple facilities, HCA’s Code Ready Web site and the Employee Emergency Helpline (1- 877-344-1313) can be invaluable resources. If you have not visited the Code Ready site, take a look and become familiar with it. Should major evacuations become necessary, the Code Ready Web site and Helpline will be your primary means of staying in touch with your HCA disaster benefit programs such as relocation, benefits continuation and Hope Fund assistance.