Improving the Odds of Natural Disaster Survival in Haiti With First Responder Training

Sunday, 29 October 2017: 2:45 PM

Jacqueline Cassagnol, MSN
Worldwide Community First Responder, Inc., Nanuet, NY, USA

The purpose of this presentation is to share the experience of a Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) member advocating for and initiating a disaster preparedness project in Haiti. In January 2010, an earthquake struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti, that resulted in more than 200,000 deaths and more than one million people homeless. As in the Haiti earthquake of 2010, the successions of events in an emergency are not predictable. Following any disaster, the first seventy-two hours are most crucial. The STTI member advocated and initiated a disaster preparedness project at Faculté des Sciences Infirmières de Léogâne (FSIL), a nursing school located 20 miles west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in the town of Léogâne that was affected by the earthquake.

The FSIL Disaster Preparedness project aimed to establish sustainable non-government policies and procedures for disasters at FSIL, through Worldwide Community First Responder (WCFR). WCFR is a non-profit organization founded after the Haiti earthquake of 2010 with a mission to prevent deaths worldwide through education and training. The project involved partnering with FSIL and was supported by a grant from Haitian American Nurses Association (HANA). From 2012 to 2016, the STTI member traveled to Haiti with WCFR members once a year and trained FSIL faculty, staff and nursing students over a 7-day period. The training program took place at the FSIL campus in Leogane, Haiti. The FSIL Disaster Project consisted of assessing the FSIL community’s risk and vulnerability for disasters; planning a community-based first response and first aid training program; training FSIL faculty, staff and nursing students in community-based first response and first aid; and developing a FSIL Disaster Preparedness Plan.

The results were very promising. The goals of the FSIL Disaster Preparedness project were to: establish capabilities for protecting FSIL community from the effects of a disaster; respond effectively to the actual occurrence of a disaster at FSIL; provide first aid in the aftermath of a disaster within the FSIL community; plan and assure disaster preparedness at FSIL. The project also engaged FSIL faculty, staff and students in making their community safer, more prepared, and more resilient when disasters occur. After a recent disaster, the STTI member evaluated the effectiveness of the policy and procedure of FSIL Disaster Preparedness and the nursing students reported that they were able to practice what they had learned. Additionally, a disaster preparedness course was developed and adopted in the FSIL curriculum. Although this project was initiated at FSIL, it can be utilized for further interventions in establishing sustainable policies and procedures for disasters in Haiti and other parts of the world. Discussion and planning are underway to assist other nursing schools in initiating similar disaster preparedness projects in Haiti.