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The University of South Alabama Medical Center's disaster preparedness coordinator Scott Taylor has been selected to attend an inaugural class that applies toward certification in preparing for disaster.
Sept. 12, 2014 - University of South Alabama Medical Center’s disaster preparedness coordinator Scott Taylor has been chosen as one of 15 individuals from around Alabama to participate in the inaugural class working toward certification in the special skill sets required to lead health care institutions through various disasters.
The Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Professional Certificate Program includes more than 200 hours of instruction, research and collaborative planning, says Dr. David Wallace, who is director of preparedness training in the Center for Strategic Health Innovation at the USA College of Medicine.
Participants in the first class are more than students, he said. Each is already a seasoned professional in some aspect of emergency preparedness, and each will not only expand his or her individual knowledge but also help to check the curriculum, to make sure it covers all the necessary topics.
“We chose Scott because we know he’s very capable in emergency preparedness. He’s one of 15 helping us build this class based on their expertise,” said Wallace.
Two other individuals from Mobile are participating — one from Mobile Infirmary because it represents a major facility, one from AltaPointe to include a mental health professional. Other major hospitals from Tuscaloosa, Huntsville and Auburn are also participating, along with individuals from rural facilities and a private practice.
The class, which is funded by Alabama’s Department of Public Health, started in June and runs through the end of February.
Emergency preparedness experts, who have been watching over the state’s disaster response for more then a decade, determined that a thorough certification program would benefit virtually every healthcare facility in the state. “One of the biggest concerns we have is turnover in healthcare facilities as it relates to emergency preparedness,” said Wallace. His leadership team hopes to curb that by creating a certification program that requires a significant investment of time and commitment by individuals and their sponsoring institutions.
Taylor, who joined the hospital staff as a SouthFlight paramedic more than two decades ago, has long since turned his career toward disaster preparedness.
“As a paramedic, you’re looking at one patient on your stretcher and checking airways and stabilizing broken bones. For disaster preparedness, you’re looking out for your facility,” said Taylor.
All the class participants come from differing backgrounds within the healthcare field, Taylor said, so he’s studying alongside an infection control nurse, a facility engineer and a safety manager, for example.
He has already spent many an hour anticipating what sort of disaster might happen in Mobile — tropical systems and chemical spills and other issues arising from the city’s two interstate highways, port and harbor. “Still, until last winter, we never expected an ice storm that paralyzed the City and most of the State for days,” he says.
Working with the program and his fellow students, he expects to develop a broader view of what could happen and how to deal with it.
Planning and preparation do help, said Wallace.
He was particularly impressed by the incredible response of the hospitals in north and central Alabama following the tornado outbreak in April, 2011. The overwhelming success in keeping storm related deaths to only 250 is a testament to how critical it is to have strong, experienced emergency preparedness professionals on staff.
Within month following the Alabama tornadoes, a Joplin, Missouri, hospital took a direct hit from an F-5 tornado. The hospital had completed an evacuation practice just days before the tornadoes struck, and with the procedures fresh in everyone’s mind, the entire hospital was evacuated in 90 minutes when it really mattered.
About the University of South Alabama Medical Center
The University of South Alabama Medical Center offers patient-centered care to the central Gulf Coast with unique services including Mobile’s only Level I Trauma Center and Regional Burn Center, plus Centers of Excellence in stroke care and cardiovascular diseases, and a wide range of acute care services.
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