Since Sept. 11, 2001 the American Red Cross has experienced an increase in
the number of nurses requesting disaster response training from around the
Like many, nurses contacted the Red Cross with offers to help those affected
by the tragic events. Though armed with extensive professional and health care
training, the unique circumstances behind large scale disaster relief showed
additional, disaster-specific training was needed. In the wake of the terrorist
attacks and the potential for future incidents, nurses are ensuring they and
their communities are prepared by turning to the Red Cross for disaster response
training and certification.
"Disasters often introduce some unique health and emergency needs, so having
trained personnel is key," said Nancy McKelvey, chief nurse, American Red Cross.
"Combining the skills that nurses possess with those gained from disaster
training expands the network of people who can provide appropriate care during a
disaster-helping to save lives," she points out. "We are pleased to do whatever
we can to help the nursing community get this lifesaving training."
Having as many nurses as possible equipped with the skills and certification
necessary to respond to disasters is a priority of the Red Cross. During a
disaster, nurses often work in Disaster Health Services, one of 25 roles or
"functions" in Red Cross disaster response, providing service in locations such
as shelters, emergency aid stations, service centers and outreach teams.
Utilizing their professional skills, nursing activities include assessing and
meeting immediate health and emotional needs of disaster victims and Red Cross
relief workers as well as making referrals and providing financial assistance
for disaster-caused health needs.
More than 500 student nurses and nursing faculty were trained recently during
the annual convention of the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) held in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Training for NSNA members included an overview of
Red Cross disaster response and the roles of various local, state and federal
agencies and organizations. Participants also received information on how
disasters affect communities, common health and emergency needs, types of
settings in which they would serve and how nurses support an overall disaster
Nurses interested in taking American Red Cross disaster training should
contact their local Red Cross chapter or visit the Red Cross Web site for more information.
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