Over the past few months, it seems there has been a new disaster weekly, if not daily.
Over the past few months, it seems there has been a new disaster weekly, if not daily. Around the world and in our own country, we’ve had hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, and more. All of us at Dimensions of Dental Hygiene are thinking of our readers who have been affected by these catastrophes. Life is so precious and such tragedies make us keenly aware of our vulnerabilities. They also emphasize the need to be as prepared as possible should a disaster occur. I came across an excellent resource from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS): ready.gov. It contains numerous resources and ideas on how to stay as safe as possible during a crisis, such as:
- Make a family emergency communication plan and include your pets.
- Identify an out-of-town emergency contact to coordinate information with family/friends.
- Check on neighbors.
- Keep an emergency kit wherever you spend time: home, car, work etc.
- Download the Federal Emergency Management Agency App and set up local alerts.
- Practice your preparedness plans with a drill or exercise.
ready.gov also has videos, publications, webinars, toolkits, and suggestions on how to prepare your family, friends, and community for a disaster. Through its “preparathons,” DHS guides you through the process of understanding what crisis events could affect your particular community, what to do to stay safe, and how to improve your ability to recover. In addition, there are special resources to cultivate youth preparedness and how to get young individuals involved in planning ahead.
One section of the website,”You Are the Help Until Help Arrives,” is of special interest to oral health professionals. With our knowledge and background in life-saving techniques, dental hygienists are in a perfect position to provide intermediate care until emergency responders arrive. As we know, the time it takes for fire, emergency medical technicians, and police to arrive can vary greatly. These times can be further delayed in a community-wide disaster where many people are injured. Who better than us to help until help arrives? The DHS site provides tutorials for individuals like us, who have the desire and expertise to mitigate injuries.
Dental hygienists are invaluable members of the dental team, as well as the prevention experts. Our skill sets are easily transferred to emergency response and preparedness, and with our “cando” attitudes, dental hygienists can make a big difference during a disaster. Just another reason to celebrate this month, as October is National Dental Hygiene Month!
Jill Rethman, RDH, BA
Editor in Chief
From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. October 2017;15(10):8.